Office of Financial Regulation Commissioner Russell Weigel affirmed Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis‘ concerns about “cancel culture” within the banking industry.
Weigel, responding to a letter sent in March from Patronis, reported in a letter that his office completed a survey of all state-chartered banks and credit unions to investigate the issue. The survey gauged whether any Florida-chartered institutions make business decisions to provide services “based upon political or social viewpoints.”
“I am very appreciative of you bringing this potential issue to my attention,” Weigel writes in the letter. “The Office of Financial Regulation is dedicated to ensuring that the citizens of Florida have fair access to financial services that are not dependent upon, nor impeded by, the political or social views of either party.”
The survey, which had 54 participants, found that all of the responding institutions did not include political or social issues as a basis to deny products or services to any group.
In his original letter, Patronis also instructed the office to determine if the practice “merits issuance of a cease-and-desist order.”
“Politically discriminatory banking practices are harmful to the economy of our state and nation,” Patronis wrote. “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.”
In responding, Weigel reaffirmed Patronis’ inquiry, saying the office will continue to monitor the situation.
“While financial institutions are required to manage risk and make risk-based decisions in order to ensure continued safety and soundness, these decisions should not be aimed at punitively punishing a business or individual because of political or social views,” Weigel wrote. “If a financial institution engages in practices that fail to manage risk and that may impair the safe and sound operation of the institution, it may be subject to enforcement actions up to and including cease and desist orders.”
The disenfranchised companies are often “too conservative” or not aligned with the “woke left,” Patronis wrote.
He further warned that the practice will hurt workers and families.
“An American business that is unbanked is not a business at all,” Patronis wrote. “Ultimately, the inability for certain industries to secure banking services will cost Americans jobs.”