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CFO Jimmy Patronis: Protecting Floridians from ‘Cancel Culture’ in the Banking Industry

3/8/2021

For Immediate Release: Monday, March 8, 2021
Contact: Office of Communications, Communications@MyFloridaCFO.com, 850.413.2842
CFO Jimmy Patronis: Protecting Floridians from ‘Cancel Culture’ in the Banking Industry 

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, Florida Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Jimmy Patronis issued a letter to Office of Financial Regulation Commissioner Russell Weigel after recent reports stated that banks are opting to withhold financing and services from businesses deemed unacceptable by the growing “cancel culture” movement. The CFO’s letter encourages the Office to analyze whether a Florida-chartered bank that exhibits political discrimination toward a specific industry group is engaged in an “unsound banking practice” that merits issuance of a cease and desist order.
 
CFO PATRONIS LETTER TO COMMISSIONER WEIGEL

March 8, 2021
Russell C. Weigel, III, Commissioner
200 E. Gaines Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399
Dear Commissioner Weigel:
I am writing you in response to troubling reports that banks are opting to withhold financing and services from businesses deemed unacceptable by the growing “cancel culture” movement. In recent months, large financial institutions,[1] have refused to extend financing and other services to entities such as firearm manufacturers, energy companies and others deemed “too conservative” or otherwise not aligned with the “woke left” vision of society. In short, “cancel culture” has reached our financial markets and the result—arbitrary selection of winners and losers—is bad news for our capitalist system. 
Denying financing to legally operating businesses like mine operators and federal detention providers is not a legitimate way to affect policy change in America. Moreover, the practice of restricting banking services to sectors “woke culture” deems worthy weaponizes federally subsidized Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) Insurance against the American taxpayers—and employers—who underwrite it.
Perhaps more alarming than the inability of certain industries to get financing are the unsettling reports that “cancel culture” has resulted in some businesses being denied access to even basic account services.[2] An American business that is unbanked is not a business at all. Ultimately, the inability for certain industries to secure banking services will cost Americans jobs.
The refusal to extend banking services has gained national attention and has prompted the introduction of federal legislation aimed at curbing discriminatory banking practices. However, as efforts are made at the federal level to prohibit these practices, it is important that we maintain our focus on Florida to ensure that our state financial institutions operate fairly.
Accordingly, I strongly encourage the Office of Financial Regulation to analyze whether a Florida-chartered bank that exhibits political discrimination toward a specific industry group is engaged in an “unsound banking practice” that merits issuance of a cease and desist order, as provided under Section 655.033, Florida Statutes.
 
Politically discriminatory banking practices are harmful to the economy of our state and nation. The banking industry has a shameful track record of denying financing to disfavored groups and we cannot allow “cancel culture” to run roughshod over American enterprise. I look forward to working with the Office of Financial Regulation to assess whether state-chartered banks in Florida are engaging in politically discriminatory banking activities.
Sincerely,
Jimmy Patronis
Chief Financial Officer

[1]Hollie McKay; Fox News: US banks and financial institutions have been slowly severing ties with the gun industry, published July 22, 2020, available at: https://www.foxnews.com/us/us-banks-financial-institutions-severing-ties-gun-industry. (last accessed March 4, 2021); Lananh Nguyen; Bloomberg: Bank of America Will Stop Lending to Private-Prison Firms, published June 26, 2019, available at:  https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-06-26/bank-of-america-will-stop-lending-to-private-prison-companies (last accessed March 8, 2021).
2 See generally Fair Access to Financial Services, 85 Fed. Reg. 75,261, 75,264 (proposed Nov. 25, 2020).

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About CFO Jimmy Patronis 
Chief Financial Officer and State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis is a statewide elected official and a member of Florida’s Cabinet who oversees the Department of Financial Services. CFO Patronis works each day to fight insurance fraud, support Florida’s firefighters, and ensure the state’s finances are stable to support economic growth in the state. Follow the activities of the Department on Facebook (FLDFS) and Twitter (@FLDFS).