Friday, October 20, 2023

Texas Attorney General Paxton Challenges Major Banks over Anti-Gun and ESG Policies

Erika Rich/Texas Tribune

After overcoming charges of corruption and an impeachment effort, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is back in action. He's currently focusing on major banks, such as JP Morgan Chase and Bank of America, alleging they are breaking Texas anti-discrimination laws. These laws prohibit banks from discriminating against firearm companies, enforcing certain environmental, social, and governance (ESG) measures, or shunning businesses owned by Israelis.

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Paxton emphasizes the importance of supporting businesses related to energy and firearms in Texas and shows strong support for Israel, especially in light of recent attacks by Hamas.

According to Texas laws, banks involved in underwriting municipal bonds cannot differentiate between gun companies and other businesses. This means they can't decline doing business with gun companies due to disagreements with the products they offer. There's been significant push from gun control advocates urging these banks to sever ties with firearm businesses.

Recently, Senator Ted Cruz from Texas confronted Intuit, the company behind QuickBooks, for discontinuing payroll services to firearm businesses. QuickBooks, a prominent accounting service for small and medium enterprises, reinstated its services after Senator Cruz's intervention. They claimed their decision was influenced by pressures from JP Morgan Chase and Bank of America.

Paxton's letter also draws attention to the Net Zero Banking Alliance, Institutional Shareholder Services, and Glass Lewis for their ESG standards. 

ESG standards prioritize social and environmental goals, sometimes at the expense of investor returns. Originating from an idea by the former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the "E" in ESG has led to bias against energy companies not aligned with "green" initiatives. The "S" has been associated with measures like Critical Race Theory (CRT) training and companies being forced to fund out-of-state abortions.

Paxton also highlights the issue of financial companies supporting the boycott, divest, and sanction (BDS) movement, which advocates for boycotting Israeli businesses. The BDS movement is supported by various individuals like Rep. Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Cori Bush. Paxton praises Israel as a significant ally of America and a symbol of freedom in the Middle East.

For Texas to pull investments from these banks like Citibank, Bank of America, and JP Morgan Chase, Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar would need to act. The call to action suggests contacting the Comptroller's office to advocate for this change.

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