Banks are sticking with Senate Republicans who tried to overturn election

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As corporations freeze political donations, banks are continuing to do business as usual with campaign committees.

Corporate political action committees have been cutting off donations to eight Republican senators since they voted on Jan. 6 to reject the results of the 2020 presidential election.

However, a review of campaign finance records reveals that the banks that work with the senators' campaign committees have so far done nothing to sever those relationships.

Sens. Ted Cruz (TX), Josh Hawley (MO), Cindy Hyde-Smith (MS), John Kennedy (LA), Cynthia Lummis (WY), Roger Marshall (KS), Rick Scott (FL), and Tommy Tuberville (AL) each voted not to certify electors for President Joe Biden, even after a deadly rampage by supporters of Donald Trump at the Capitol delayed the joint session of Congress on Jan. 6 for hours and forced members to flee and hide.

A total of 139 House Republicans also answered Trump's call and voted to overturn his defeat.

In the weeks since, dozens of corporations have announced that their political action committees are freezing campaign donations to those 147 lawmakers.

Google announced its decision to pause PAC donations to them in the 2021-2022 campaign cycle. "After the disturbing events at the Capitol, NetPAC paused all contributions while undertaking a review," a spokesperson told CBS News. "Following that review, the NetPAC board has decided that it will not be making any contributions this cycle to any member of Congress who voted against certification of the election results."

But another set of partners has been silent: the banks that service lawmaker's campaign committees.

In addition to reporting their donors and expenditures, every federal candidate and their campaign committee must disclose to the Federal Election Commission the name of the banks with which they hold accounts. The banks provide financial services to lawmakers' campaigns and leadership PACs and often provide loans and lines of credit, allowing candidates to spend money before they raise it.

Good government groups say banks should rethink those relationships with those who attacked democracy.

"I think we're at the time of a broader call to corporate leaders to cease their electioneering activities. As part of that, financial institutions need to take a hard look at which lines they take the risk of crossing by harboring the funds of individuals who could be caught up in illegal activity and some of the most extreme activity of threatening our democracy," Beth Rotman, national director of money in politics and ethics at Common Cause, said in a phone interview.

"One would think they should certainly be as attentive to the funds of individuals who are engaged in sedition as they would be attentive to the funds of a legal state marijuana enterprise," she said, noting that several banks refuse to let cannabis businesses establish accounts, even in states that have legalized the plant's recreational use.

Robert Maguire, director of research for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, agreed that banks need to closely examine those relationships.

"I think at a fundamental level they have an ethical obligation to at least make the consideration of whether or not these members are people they want to do business with, whether they are enabling a seditious mentality that has taken over a significant part of the Republican Party," Maguire said. He suggested they might want to consider not only whether it is ethical to do business with those who helped fuel an act of "domestic terrorism," but also to evaluate their creditworthiness.

"There could be a self-interested reason to say 'We're not doing business with you, we're not making loans,' because so many people are cutting off donations, they might not be able to repay those loans," he said.

These banks have so far have maintained their relationships with the eight senators' campaigns.

BB&T Bank / Truist Bank

According to their campaign finance disclosures, Cruz, Hawley, Hyde-Smith, Scott, and Tuberville all have accounts with Truist Bank, formerly BB&T. Hawley's Fighting for Missouri PAC also has a separate account with the North Carolina-based bank.

In an email, a spokesperson noted that Truist is "carefully reviewing" its "political engagement practices to assure that Truist exclusively supports candidates who advance unity and democracy."

Asked about candidate committee accounts, the spokesperson cited privacy concerns, saying that company does not "discuss client relationships or confirm or deny that we have them."

Chain Bridge Bank

Marshall, Tuberville, and Scott all have accounts with Virginia-based Chain Bridge Bank, as does Scott's Let's Get to Work PAC.

A company spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.

Community Bank

Hyde-Smith and her Conservatives Harvesting Success PAC have accounts at Community Bank in Mississippi.

A company spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.

EagleBank

Hawley and Marshall's Defend Our Conservative Senate PAC both have accounts at Maryland-based EagleBank.

A company spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.

Farmers Bank & Trust

Marshall has an account at the Farmers Bank & Trust in Kansas.

A company spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.

First Bank and Trust

Kennedy and his Pelican PAC have accounts with Louisiana-based First Bank and Trust.

A company spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.

Hilltop National Bank

Lummis and her Steer PAC have accounts at Hilltop National Bank in Wyoming.

A company spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.

Plains Capital Bank

Cruz has an account with Texas-based Plains Capital Bank, also owned by Hilltop Holdings.

A spokesperson for the bank's Texas-based parent company, Hilltop Holdings, said in an emailed statement that the company PAC "has suspended all political contributions at this time" to allow "all political parties" to "take this time to find common ground and unite in support of our democracy." Asked about candidate accounts, the spokesperson answered, "We do not comment on specific customer relationships."

In an interview, Brendan Fischer, director for federal reform at the Campaign Legal Center, a nonpartisan organization, noted that action by financial institutions to cut off accountholders was not unprecedented.

"The closest analogy is probably the payment processing company Stripe that announced they would stop processing contributions for Trump's campaign," Fischer said, calling that "an example of how private companies can take steps to separate themselves from candidates and campaigns."

Stripe decided earlier this month it would no longer directly process payments for Trump's fundraising efforts, determining that he violated company policies against encouraging "unlawful violence."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.