Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Kevin Cramer (R-ND) sent a letter to U.S. Department of the Treasury on Wednesday expressing concern about banks discriminating against Americans based on political views and beliefs.
The senators referenced an incident that occurred in August of this year, in which JPMorgan Chase & Co. allegedly terminated Lori Flynn’s credit cards due to the bank’s concerns of “reputational risk.” Mrs. Flynn is the wife of Lt. General Michael Flynn, former National Security Advisor to President Donald Trump, who received a pardon from then-President Trump for allegations he lied to the FBI during the Russia collusion hoax.
The bank has since claimed the termination was in error and reinstated her account, according to the Washington Examiner.
“We’ve contacted our customer to let her know that we made an error,” a Chase spokesperson said. “And we apologized for any inconvenience this caused.”
The senators said termination should be a “great concern to many Americans,” even if the cancellation was truly an accident.
“If political views are considered a valid factor in a bank’s determination of reputational risk for the purposes of determining access to credit, the banking services of millions of Americans could be put in jeopardy,” they wrote.
The lawmakers blasted the Biden Administration for contributing to the “ambiguity of the legal landscape” around fair access to credit that allows for “events like the above to occur and threatens the public’s trust in our financial system.” The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) reportedly paused its publication of a rule known as “Fair Access to Financial Services,” which would have doubly ensured banks use impartial standards to determine credit worthiness.
“This was a commonsense rule that should be reinstated,” they wrote.
As a result, both Cramer and Rubio introduced and/or joined in on legislation to keep banks from discriminatory behavior based on arbitrary measures. Cramer’s Fair Access to Bank Act would bar large banks from discriminating against lawfully operating people and businesses. Rubio is lending his support to the Financial Defense of Industrial Contractors Act, which would protect contractors from discrimination by large banks.
The senators ended their letter questioning whether the OCC will protect Americans from events like what happened to Mrs. Flynn.
“What steps will you take to ensure that Americans are not penalized for their political affiliation and beliefs when seeking financial services?” they asked.
The senators also requested the OCC reinstate the 2020 Fair Access Rule.