Jimmy Patronis: Florida Banks Need to be Protected From Cancel Culture

This week, Florida Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Jimmy Patronis issued a letter to Office of Financial Regulation (OFR) 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 OFR 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.

The letter is below.

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, 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. 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.

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