September 19, 2019

Bank of America’s Decision to Sever Ties with Certain Gun Manufacturers Blasted by Free-Market Leader

Press Release from the National Center for Public Policy Research:

Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan Refuses to Say How Much Money Investors Will Lose Because of His Decision to Join Those Who Oppose Second Amendment

Charlotte, NC/Washington, DC – At today’s annual meeting of Bank of America investors, held in Charlotte, North Carolina, a representative of the National Center for Public Policy Research’s Free Enterprise Project (FEP) – the nation’s leading proponent of free-market investor activism – confronted notoriously liberal banking CEO Brian Moynihan over the company’s financially irresponsible decision to sever ties with certain gun manufacturers.

“Moynihan and Bank of America’s leadership team have decided to place liberal virtue signaling ahead of the company’s investors,” said National Center General Counsel and FEP Director Justin Danhof, Esq., who attended today’s meeting and confronted Moynihan. “This is a gross violation of the company’s fiduciary duty to its investors. If Moynihan wants to lobby against gun rights on his own time, that’s one thing. But he instead put Bank of America’s significant financial and institutional weight behind a policy movement aimed at harming or abolishing the Second Amendment. By using his position as CEO in such an overtly political manner, he is abdicating his responsibility to act in his company’s best interests. He doesn’t accurately speak for all of the company’s investors and customers – which surely include millions of Second Amendment supporters.”

At the meeting, Danhof noted:

[T]he company is joining a list of corporations following the liberal whim of the moment and not looking out for the best interests of long-term shareholders. The company is also lending its voice to those who want to abolish the Second Amendment.

Let’s take a look at how another famous investor addressed this issue. CNBC asked Warren Buffett about corporations distancing themselves from the National Rifle Association and gun manufacturers and how Berkshire Hathaway would respond. Buffett replied: “I don’t believe in imposing my views on [our] employees and a million shareholders. I’m not their nanny on that… I don’t think that Berkshire should say we’re not going to do business with [gun folks]. I think that would be ridiculous.”

Danhof then asked:

Can you tell us – your investors – exactly how much money we stand to lose because of this decision, and explain why you have this right while Warren Buffett has this wrong?

To read Danhof’s full question, as prepared for delivery, click here. (Note that Danhof shortened the question at today’s meeting due to a strict time limit that was imposed on investors – except for Jesse Jackson, who was allowed to ramble well past the time allowed.)

“Today Bank of America made it clear that it is proud to lend its voice to the anti-Second Amendment community. If you are a gun owner, a member of the National Rifle Association, in the gun or ammunition business, or simply a supporter of the Constitution, it’s my impression that Bank of America doesn’t want your business,” said Danhof. “And perhaps those constituencies ought to take the company up on that score.”

Audio of Danhof’s exchange with Moynihan is available with this link.

“I think most folks in the financial press would be interested to know why Bank of America’s Moynihan thinks he is right on this issue and Warren Buffett is wrong,” noted Danhof. “Maybe a financial journalist can follow up with the company and get an answer to that question – because it’s clear he doesn’t have enough respect for his investors to give us a straight answer.”

Following the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, and the ensuing corporate backlash against the National Rifle Association, Danhof wrote a commentary describing corporate America’s repeated pattern of joining with the liberal cause of the day. As published in The Federalist, Danhof noted:

It’s an all too common pattern. Liberal politicians and the media take up a cause. Left-wing activist groups mobilize to pressure corporations. Corporate America joins the fray, and their support is used to bolster and justify the cause. It’s a circular echo chamber, but it’s effective…

By and large, conservative Americans leave business alone because they realize private enterprise drives the economic engine that keeps America thriving. However, as corporate America continues to join with the left to erode constitutional protections and traditional beliefs that conservatives hold dear, silence is no longer an option.

Click here to read Danhof’s entire commentary.

This meeting marks the 12th shareholder meeting of 2018 in which FEP has participated.

To book an interview with Danhof or another National Center representative, contact Judy Kent at (703) 759-0269 or (703) 477-7476.

Launched in 2007, the National Center’s Free Enterprise Project focuses on shareholder activism and the confluence of big government and big business. Over the past four years alone, FEP representatives have participated in over 100 shareholder meetings – advancing free-market ideals about health care, energy, taxes, subsidies, regulations, religious freedom, food policies, media bias, gun rights, workers’ rights and other important public policy issues. As the leading voice for conservative-minded investors, FEP annually files more than 90 percent of all right-of-center shareholder resolutions. Dozens of liberal organizations, however, annually file more than 95 percent of all policy-oriented shareholder resolutions and continue to exert undue influence over corporate America.

FEP activity has been covered by media outlets including the New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Variety, the Associated Press, Bloomberg, Drudge Report, Business Insider, National Public Radio and SiriusXM. FEP’s work was prominently featured in Wall Street Journal writer Kimberley Strassel’s 2016 book The Intimidation Game: How the Left is Silencing Free Speech (Hachette Book Group).

Danhof’s latest commentary, on the recent Walt Disney shareholder meeting where his actions resulted in Joy Behar’s public apology for suggesting Christianity is a mental illness, is available here.

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No Money for Free Market Investment but Millions for Environmentalism

*Editor’s Note* Below is a copy of a press release I received yesterday from the National Center for Public Policy Research. One of their members attended a Bank of America shareholders meeting and the CEO was asked why Bank of America claims to have no money for free market investments but has millions to spend on environmental issues and anti-coal business. As one would expect, no real answers were given. Of note, I found it “snickerable” to read the comments about the environmental whackos in attendance singing songs, etc.

Charlotte, NC / Washington, DC – At today’s annual Bank of America shareholder meeting in Charlotte, N.C., an attorney with the National Center for Public Policy Research criticized Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan for caving to left-wing race bullies and dropping its membership the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) a venerable network of conservative state legislators.

Bank of America dumped ALEC after a concerted effort by Color of Change, Common Cause and the Occupy movement to defund ALEC by intimidating its corporate members.

“Mr. Moynihan gave no definitive answer as to why the company dropped ALEC,” said National Center Free Enterprise Project Director Justin Danhof, who questioned Moynihan today.

“Mr. Moynihan basically answered me by saying, paraphrased, we take into consideration all factors when we make decisions, and when we make decisions, we consider all factors, including what groups we are part of,” added Danhof. “That tells us nothing.”

An audio recording of Danhof’s question and Moynihan’s response is available on YouTube here.

“The decision to drop ALEC – combined with the company’s green energy spending – has made it clear that Bank of America is willing and able to do the bidding of the extreme left.”

“Bank of America is lending corporate clout to radical groups making outrageous and unfounded claims against conservative and free-market organizations. Bending to the twisted will of radical left organizations is not a solid business strategy,” said Danhof. “If Bank of America is content to do the bidding of extreme race-baiters, shareholders may want to avoid investing in this company until its leaders recommit to free-market causes.”

And even though ALEC stopped working on the voter integrity issue, Color of Change still has an entire section of its website dedicated to defunding the venerable organization, titled “Tell Corporations: Stop Funding ALEC.”

“It appears Color of Change’s true mission is to gin up false racial narratives to defund conservative and free-market causes,” noted Danhof. “But we will not be silenced.”

Partly in response to corporate members dropping their memberships in ALEC, the National Center announced a new Voter Identification Task Force. In short order, the National Center has become a leading national voice for voter integrity.

Danhof also asked Moynihan why he was spending so much shareholder money on green energy programs.

“Considering that Bank of America has claimed in the past that it dropped ALEC for budgetary reasons, it seems odd that the company has allocated $70 billion for green projects including $100 million for grants to groups who are working to reduce fossil fuel usage,” said Danhof. “When I asked Moynihan if he would provide a list of these organizations who receive this gift of shareholder money, he refused to answer the question. It appears Bank of America hopes to hide these donations from the public and the company’s shareholders.”

“The larger point I was trying to bring to managements’ attention is that doing the bidding of left-wing radicals is a never-ending endeavor – environmental zealots are never satisfied,” added Danhof. “This was borne out at today’s meeting where Bank of America’s leadership touted their $70 billion commitment to green programs, yet scores of environmental activists were at the meeting and protesting outside demanding ever more. And if history is an indicator, they will likely get their way.”

Danhof noted that a huge portion of the meeting’s time was dedicated to listening to a series of anti-coal zealots, who dominated the question-and-answer period by making mini-speeches in lieu of questions about why Bank of America should not do business with the coal industry. “These speeches went on and on; perhaps 75% or even 90% of the question-and-answer time of the meeting was taken up by these anti-coal activists,” said Danhof.

“The anti-coal activists even included two rabbis, a woman from Boston and a man, and a minister from somewhere local,” added Danhof. “The female rabbi ended her ‘question’ by singing an Appalachian song of some kind. She was actually a pretty good singer, but a lot of these anti-coal people were just loons.”

A copy of Danhof’s question at today’s shareholder meeting, as prepared for delivery, can be found here.

The National Center for Public Policy Research is a Bank of America shareholder.

The National Center for Public Policy Research, founded in 1982, is a non-partisan, free-market, independent conservative think-tank. Ninety-four percent of its support comes from individuals, less than 4 percent from foundations, and less than 2 percent from corporations. It receives over 350,000 individual contributions a year from over 96,000 active recent contributors. In 2012-13, zero percent of its contributions have come from the fossil fuel industry or related foundations.

Contributions are tax-deductible and greatly appreciated.

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