Today, Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Ranking Member of the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs; Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Ranking Member of the Committee on Financial Services; Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA); and Congressman Keith Ellison (D-MN) sent an open letter to financial services trade groups demanding that they condemn the appointment of Stephen Bannon to President-elect Donald Trump’s administration.
The Members noted that the Mr. Bannon’s track record of bigotry runs counter to the values of the financial services industry and the country.
“As leaders in the business community, you have a moral obligation to speak out against this appointment as contrary to the values of this country and to the values of your industry,” they wrote. “We urge you to condemn this appointment immediately and without reservation.”
The letter highlights some of Mr. Bannon’s most egregious comments about women, African-Americans, Hispanics, Jews and Muslims, as well as his ties to the white nationalist movement. It was sent to the American Bankers Association, Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, The Clearinghouse, National Association of Federal Credit Unions, Investment Company Institute, Financial Services Roundtable, Independent Community Bankers of America, Credit Union National Association, Mortgage Bankers Association, Consumer Bankers Association, American Investment Council, American Financial Services Association, Community Financial Services Association of America, Community Home Lenders Association, Community Mortgage Lenders of America.
“You have influence over the conduct of the next Administration and a clear opportunity to announce unequivocally that the banking and finance industry will not tolerate bigotry and prejudice,” the letter states. “What message will it send to your customers and employees if you remain silent?”
The full text of the letter can be found below:
November 16, 2016
Dear Financial Services Industry Leaders:
Earlier this week, President-elect Donald Trump selected Stephen K. Bannon to serve as his Chief Strategist and Senior Counselor. This appointment will put a bigot beloved by white supremacists and supported by the American Nazi Party and the KKK a few steps from the Oval Office and empower him to influence every major decision the next President makes. It is a clear sign that bigotry – against women, against African-Americans, against Hispanics, against Jews and Muslims – will play a central role in the Trump Administration.
As leaders in the business community, you have a moral obligation to speak out against this appointment as contrary to the values of this country and to the values of your industry. We urge you to condemn this appointment immediately and without reservation.
The industry you represent holds itself out to the public as serving all customers with care and respect. After the housing crisis revealed systematic discrimination against African-American and Hispanic families in the mortgage market, the industry recommitted itself to stamping out prejudicial practices. Since then, you and your members have reaffirmed the idea that diversity and inclusiveness makes our nation and our businesses stronger.
Mr. Bannon’s track record speaks for itself – and it goes against everything you claim to stand for. According to court documents, Mr. Bannon said that he did not want his children to go to school with Jews. He called women involved in the women’s liberation movement “a bunch of dykes.” And he operated a website that regularly published racist, sexist, and bigoted pieces. For example:
- Two weeks after the massacre of African-Americans in a Charleston church, his website called upon readers to “hoist the [Confederate flag] high and fly it with pride.”
- In a piece questioning President Obama’s birthplace, his website featured a picture of a gorilla.
- His website ran pieces with the headlines, “Would You Rather Your Child Had Feminism or Cancer?,” and “Birth Control Makes Women Unattractive and Crazy.”
Mr. Bannon has declared that his website is a “platform for the alt-right,” a movement that rails against immigrants and Muslims, while advocating white nationalism. His ties to the white nationalist movement are so strong and well-known that leaders of that movement have hailed his appointment. David Duke, the former Grand Wizard of the KKK, called the appointment “excellent.”
This moment is a test of the moral leadership of the banking and finance community. You surely recognize that the views Mr. Bannon espouses and promotes have no place in the White House – just as they would have no place in the companies you operate. His influence could lead the next administration to gut the laws that protect Americans from discrimination, and you have a clear opportunity to announce unequivocally that the banking and finance industry will not tolerate bigotry and prejudice. What message will it send to your customers and employees if you remain silent?
If you fail to speak up now, it will only empower the Trump Administration to go further down this dangerous path. We hope that will not be the case.
Sen. Sherrod Brown
Rep. Maxine Waters
Sen. Elizabeth Warren
Rep. Keith Ellison