In advance of JPMorgan Chase & Co.‘s annual shareholder meeting on Tuesday, May 16, National Legal and Policy Center and the National Committee for Religious Freedom (NCRF) have each filed pleadings with the Securities and Exchange Commission in support of Proposal 10, “Report on Ensuring Respect for Civil Liberties.”
The text of the proposal, and the company’s response in opposition to the proposal, can be found on page 100 of JPMorgan’s proxy statement. The proposal was filed by David Bahnsen, and was spurred by several reports about the company’s de-banking of religious and political conservatives. The resolution asks for the Board of Directors to “conduct an evaluation and issue a report within the next year…evaluating how it oversees risks related to discrimination against individuals based on their race, color, religion (including religious views), sex, national origin, or political views, and whether such discrimination may impact individuals’ exercise of their constitutionally protected civil rights.”
Of particular concern is the experience of former U.S. Ambassador for Religious Freedom, Sam Brownback (pictured above), who founded the NCRF and was “de-banked” within weeks of opening an account for the organization at a Chase branch. The NCRF’s filing with the SEC explains how Ambassador Brownback was treated by officials and representatives of the Company:
I founded the National Committee for Religious Freedom to represent Americans from every faith and walk of life. Our bipartisan National Advisory Board includes members who are Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Mormon, and Muslim. In April 2022, we opened a bank account for the NCRF at Chase. We chose Chase because of its national footprint and the multi-generational relationships our team had with the bank.
On May 19, 2022, I tried to deposit a donation at a local Chase branch. That is when the NCRF discovered that its account had been closed. The local branch could share only that the corporate office had closed the account and that bank employees were not allowed to share additional information. We asked repeatedly for an explanation but representatives told us a note in our file read that Chase employees were not permitted to provide any further clarifying information to the customer. The following week we finally received a letter from Chase–dated May 6–saying they had decided to “end our relationship with you.” The letter did not elaborate and stated no other reason for closing the account.
Brownback goes on to explain how JPMorgan Chase kept changing its story about the reasons for closing NCRF’s account. The full report to the SEC is worth reading.
NLPC also filed a report with the SEC weeks ago in support of Mr. Bahnsen’s proposal, and cited other examples of concern:
Back in August 2021, the Company also cancelled the credit card of the wife of former National Security Advisor, General Michael Flynn, “because continuing the relationship creates possible reputational risk to our company.” Following a public outcry, the Company reversed its decision and apologized.
More objections were required to reverse a decision made by JPMorgan’s payment processing subsidiary, WePay, after it shut down online ticketing for an event hosted by Missouri conservative group Defense of Liberty, which planned to feature Donald Trump, Jr. as a speaker. According to the Associated Press, WePay wrote that the PAC violated its terms of service against “hate, violence, racial intolerance, terrorism, the financial exploitation of a crime” or encouraging that behavior.
In another de-banking example, Democrat members of both the U.S. House and Senate pressed JPMorgan and Wells Fargo to cut ties with an association of Republican state financial officers. According to a statement from Congressional Democrats, citing a recent House Financial Services Committee hearing with the business leaders, Mr. [Jamie] Dimon and Wells Fargo CEO Charlie Scharf said “they would likely end their support of the [financial officers] if it was true the group was spreading misinformation and attempting to prevent the financial sector from freely allocating capital.”
NLPC cites several more examples of bias and de-banking at JPMorgan in its 12-page report, including the political animus on the part of Chairman/CEO Jamie Dimon against conservatives and in particular, former President Donald Trump.
Dimon and JPMorgan are now under pressure due to a lawsuit against the company for allowing convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein continue as a client of the bank, despite officials knowing about his previous conviction and continued activities. Dimon is required to give a deposition in the lawsuit later this month.
NLPC and our allies at the National Center for Public Policy Research criticized JPMorgan for allowing Epstein to continue banking with Chase for years after his conviction, while shutting down the accounts of advocates for religious freedom.
We encourage readers who own shares of JPMorgan Chase and Co. to vote in support of Proposal No. 10 before the meeting on Tuesday.