Hedge fund manager David Bahnsen will introduce a resolution before the shareholders of JPMorgan Chase next week regarding the company’s moves to de-bank organizations for their conservative and religious viewpoints.
Chase Bank, the consumer and commercial subsidiary of the financial services behemoth, has garnered controversy in recent months for nixing its relationship with the National Committee for Religious Freedom, a nonprofit that advocates for religious liberty, and asking the organization to provide a list of its donors. 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.
The shareholder resolution submitted by Bahnsen, the founder and chief investment officer of The Bahnsen Group, contends that the actions from Chase violate the liberties enumerated in the United States Constitution and the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. The resolution, which will be presented at the company’s annual shareholder meeting on May 16, would demand that JPMorgan Chase publish an evaluation of how the firm oversees risks related to discrimination against clients for their religious and political views.
“When companies engage in this kind of discrimination, they hinder the ability of individuals, groups, and businesses to access and equally participate in the marketplace and instead skew it to their own ends,” the resolution asserts. “Moreover, they risk giving fringe activists and governments a foothold to demand that private financial institutions deny service under the sweeping, unfettered discretion that such policies provide.”
JPMorgan Chase filed a motion with the Securities and Exchange Commission earlier this year to exclude the resolution from the shareholder ballot, a move which authorities from the agency rejected.
Bahnsen remarked in an interview with The Daily Wire that he does not expect the resolution to pass next week but said the intended impact “has already been achieved” because of the significant attention drawn by the company’s unsuccessful effort to nix the resolution.
“We have now had three extensive meetings directly with senior leaders at JPMorgan Chase and have been able to engage them in serious conversation about these matters,” Bahnsen commented. “I do not believe this would have ever gotten any internal attention apart from this effort, nor do I think senior leadership understood or appreciated that there were even people like us out there before this.”
Bahnsen, himself a conservative Christian and the son of influential late apologist Greg Bahnsen, said he does not believe actions against religious groups are emerging from senior executives, attributing the phenomenon to the “biases and prejudices” of “highly empowered” local and regional middle managers. “I am convinced these discriminatory things are happening, and that senior management is not behind it at all,” he continued. “I believe they have a breakdown at a more local and regional level causing this, and they internally are going to have to rectify it.”
Many accuse public and private actors of leveraging the financial system to oppose certain political perspectives, especially those held by conservatives. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoked emergency powers last year to freeze the personal and corporate bank accounts of individuals involved with demonstrations against vaccine mandates, while PayPal announced that the firm would withdraw penalties from accounts deemed to be promoting racism or misinformation, a policy that the company later claimed was published by mistake.
The shareholder resolution comes as several Republican state attorneys general asked JPMorgan Chase to participate in the survey component of the Viewpoint Diversity Score Business Index, an initiative from the Alliance Defending Freedom that evaluates prominent firms for their commitments to religious liberty and freedom of speech. JPMorgan Chase scored 15% out of 100% due to “unclear or imprecise policies” which allow the bank to “deny service for arbitrary or politically biased reasons.”