After it was reported that SunTrust Banks had stopped all business with Benham Real Estate, the group owned by David and Jason Benham, SunTrust spokesman told Breitbart News Friday afternoon that whatever issues caused Benham Real Estate to lose SunTrust business have been settled and they are back in business.
Two weeks ago, David and Jason Benham became national news when HGTV dropped their pending real estate rehab television show over the brothers’ support for traditional marriage and opposition to same-sex marriage.
Mike McCoy, SunTrust corporate spokesman, denied that SunTrust had anything to do with David and Jason Benham losing business and insisted whatever transpired had nothing to do with “political views.”
Portions of emails obtains by Breitbart News show Benham Real Estate franchisees believed it was pressure from SunTrust that ended the relationship with the as-yet unnamed third part asset management company that was doing business on behalf of SunTrust.
One Benham franchisee wrote to the Benhams, “Unfortunately the seller (SunTrust) is asking for this property to be re-assigned. This was the direct clients (SunTrust) request. I really appreciate all your efforts on this property… This one is out of our control. It is really nothing you did.”
Another franchisee wrote, “The asset manager told me, ‘It was nothing you did directly. I am very sorry it was the client (SunTrust) that asked for the property to be re-assigned. It was not because of your performance at all.'”
While the same-sex marriage issue was not mentioned in either of the emails obtained by Breitbart News, Benham spokesman Patrick Pearson told Breitbart News, “You have to admit the timing is suspect.”
SunTrust spokesman Michael McCoy told Breitbart News that SunTrust had no knowledge of the emails and refused to discuss them. McCoy said, “SunTrust never tells vendors to withhold business based on political views.” When pressed on whether SunTrust told the vendor to stop doing business for any reason at all, McCoy refused to answer.
McCoy said SunTrust had conversations with the asset manager today, and he believes the issue has been resolved and that the Benhams are back in business with the vendor.
Patrick Pearson, spokesman for the Benhams, told Breitbart News that at least one property has returned to Benham management.
The business relationship between SunTrust and the Benhams has to do with foreclosed properties the Benhams and their franchisees would manage for the bank and then resell.
It is notable that customer service representatives at SunTrust are ready with a prepared statement for angry customers in regards to the Benhams, as it shows SunTrust was receiving numerous calls. They tell angry callers that SunTrust does not comment on business relationships. When asked if they want to continue to do business with those who agree with the Benhams about same-sex marriage, the customer service representatives, at least the two I spoke to, said, “Yes, SunTrust wants business,” even from those who hold views similar to the Benhams.
In a statement provided to Breitbart News yesterday headlined “The Bullying of the Benham Brothers Continues…”, the brothers “confirm that SunTrust Bank has pulled all of its listed properties with the Benham brothers and several franchisees across the U.S.”
“This came without warning or explanation from SunTrust and took place over a 15 minute period on May 15, 2014,” the statement claimed. “The Benhams, as well as several of their franchisees, have enjoyed a mutually productive working relationship with SunTrust for many years, even holding ‘preferred broker’ status. SunTrust was contacted but declined to explain why they fired these brokers.”
David Benham explained, “We were caught off-guard with this one. Keeping us off television wasn’t enough, now this agenda to silence wants us out of the marketplace.”
“As Americans we find ourselves at a crossroads and are forced with a decision to either stand up or sit down,” he continued. “Evidently, SunTrust’s longstanding commitment to diversity must not include our historic Christian values.”
Jason Benham added, “If our faith costs us our HGTV show and our business, then so be it.”