Questions over JPMorgan Chase’s policies and practices towards the firearms industry led to the postponement and potential cancellation of more than $800-million in bonds in Louisiana on Thursday, on the heels of the state’s Attorney General asking the financial giant’s CEO to provide some clarity about where the bank stands.
Jamie Dimon told the bond commission that the bank had no anti-gun policies or practices, even though the CEO admitted in Congressional testimony earlier this year that JPMorgan Chase does not do business with the makers of modern sporting rifles. Or as Dimon himself put it when he was testifying before a congressional committee back in May of this year, “we do not finance the manufacture of military-style weapons for civilian use.”
Sounds like an anti-gun policy to me. And it appears the Louisiana Bond Commission agrees.
Commission Chair John Schroder, who is also the state treasurer, opened the nearly three-hour-long meeting by striking two gas and fuels tax bond items from the 51-item agenda.
“Starting off with items 47 and 48, I’m removing them from the agenda today. Reason being, I was made aware of this issue late Tuesday, and Tuesday was the day we actually selected the bank that would be doing this refinancing,” Schroder said without naming JPMorgan Chase. “And then I was made aware of some issues that I have some concerns with.”
Item 47 on the commission’s agenda pertained to the fixed rate financing of $700 million in gasoline and fuels tax revenue refunding bonds. Item 48 was for $121 million in variable rate refinancing of gasoline and fuels tax second lien revenue refunding bonds.
“I notified the bank last night at 10:30 p.m., so we will regroup,” Schroder said. “We will have to look at our criteria and see what we need to do. Because, quite frankly, for those who don’t know what I’m talking about, we were issuing a refinance on $700 million of gas and fuels. We’re going to pull that and we’re going to give it a month and go back and look at our criteria and make sure we’re treating everyone equal. Because right now, we don’t know what that is.”
The language used was vague enough that if you didn’t have any background information you’d have no idea what a big deal this is. If this deal gets scuttled, it won’t spell the end of JPMorgan Chase, but it does shut off another bond market for the financial giant, which is already barred from bidding on any government bonds in the state of Texas because of its law declaring that banks competing for those bonds must not discriminate against the likes of the firearms industry. There’s a real danger for JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup, and others that have adopted policies barring the firearms industry from their services that other states are going to start following the lead of places like Texas and Louisiana.
So far the financial industry hasn’t blinked, but we’re still in the embryonic stages of the legislative pushback against their anti-gun policies. $800-million here, $800-million there, and pretty soon you’re talking about real money, even for a firm as large as JPMorgan Chase. There are only a handful of states with laws like Texas’ on the books at the moment, but this is one of those ideas that could quickly catch on in red states across the country. If you’re a conservative pro-Second Amendment lawmaker in a state that’s already passed Constitutional Carry, for instance, and you’re looking for a good pro-gun issue to turn into a bill, you could do a lot worse than firing monetary shots across the bow of anti-gun banking battleships until they provide fair access to financial services.