Sam Brownback, the chair of the National Committee for Religious Freedom, detailed how JPMorgan Chase suddenly cut ties with the nonprofit last year, an experience which occurred despite the financial services behemoth denying ahead of its upcoming shareholder meeting that they have debanked conservative and religious customers.
Chase Bank, the firm’s consumer and commercial subsidiary, drew backlash in recent months for abruptly ending its relationship with the National Committee for Religious Freedom, a “nonpartisan, faith-based nonprofit organization dedicated to defending the right of everyone in America to live one’s faith freely.” The bank account belonging to the entity was nixed three weeks after starting a relationship with Chase, which asked the nonprofit to provide a list of their major donors and their criteria for deciding which candidates they would support.
David Bahnsen, the founder and chief investment officer of The Bahnsen Group, accordingly filed a resolution to be presented at the JPMorgan Chase annual shareholder meeting next week demanding that the firm publish an evaluation of how executives oversee risks related to discrimination against clients for their religious and political views.
Board directors for JPMorgan Chase recommended that shareholders vote against the measure and claimed the proposal is “based on allegations that are not true,” adding that the company does not “debank people because of their political views, ideas, or religious affiliation.”
Brownback, who formerly served as a senator and governor for the state of Kansas, as well as the United States ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom, said in a Thursday submission to the Securities and Exchange Commission that his experience “says otherwise.”
“Every American needs basic financial services. That is why the government has granted banks, particularly national ones like Chase, significant regulatory privileges,” Brownback wrote. “Politicizing financial services is contrary to those purposes and discourages Americans from exercising their rights to free speech and religious exercise.”
Brownback remarked that he learned the account for the National Committee for Religious Freedom had been shuttered on May 19, 2022, a move which the organization’s local branch could only say was a decision that came from the corporate office. He received a letter one week later, dated May 6, 2022, which said that the company had decided to “end our relationship with you” and did not provide a reason for the decision. Five months later, after Brownback wrote an opinion piece about his experience, Chase sent another letter claiming they had to ask the questions about donors and candidate support criteria in order to “comply with federal banking guidelines to prevent money laundering and terrorism.”
“On its face, this rationale is preposterous,” Brownback continued. “Yet even if the guidelines did apply, regulators do not require banks to do this screening at all.”
Jeremy Tedesco, senior vice president of corporate engagement at the Alliance Defending Freedom, said in a statement provided to The Daily Wire that Chase “needs to rebuild trust with its shareholders and clients” and “assure its shareholders and customers that it respects everyone’s freedom to participate in the marketplace.”
Other conservative and religious entities have had similar experiences with Chase: several Republican state attorneys general noted in a letter last week that one credit card processor owned by Chase likewise terminated an account belonging to Family Council, a conservative organization that works to strengthen traditional family values, while another firm controlled by Chase refused to serve the political action committee Defense of Liberty.
JPMorgan Chase previously filed a motion with the Securities and Exchange Commission to exclude the religious liberty resolution submitted by Bahnsen from the shareholder ballot, a move which authorities from the agency rejected.