I’m thinking there has to be more to this story, not because I doubt that there are lefty corporate execs who find guns and gun owners loathsome but because from a business standpoint this is the highest of high insanity. My strong suspicion from years of following news on the right is that gun enthusiasts are the single most passionate interest group in conservative America. The barest whiff of some form of new regulation becomes an instant sensation online. If I ran a business they’d be the very last lobby I’d want to cross, just because they’re ready, willing, and able to organize a mighty effective boycott. Surely BOA, a company that’s headquartered in a southern city, knows the shinolastorm they’d be inviting if they pulled something like this.
And yet, here we are.
McMillan Fiberglass Stocks, McMillan Firearms Manufacturing, McMillan Group International have been collectively banking with Bank of America for 12 years. Today Mr. Ray Fox, Senior Vice President, Market Manager, Business Banking, Global Commercial Banking came to my office. He scheduled the meeting as an “account analysis” meeting in order to evaluate the two lines of credit we have with them. He spent 5 minutes talking about how McMillan has changed in the last 5 years and have become more of a firearms manufacturer than a supplier of accessories.
At this point I interrupted him and asked “Can I possible save you some time so that you don’t waste your breath? What you are going to tell me is that because we are in the firearms manufacturing business you no longer what my business.”
“That is correct” he says…
“So you are telling me this is a politically motivated decision, is that right?”
Mr Fox confirmed that it was. At which point I told him that the meeting was over and there was nothing let for him to say.
Any reason to think that BOA really might make a politically motivated decision to cut ties with gun businesses? Well, maybe. Read Bob Owens’s post at PJM for lots of interesting background on McMillan and BOA:
Bank of America was the recipient of well over 100 billion dollars in federal money. They are also one of just two vendors processing payments for Barack Obama’s 2012 presidential campaign, employing a system that disables safeguards against illegal foreign donations. Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina, is the site of the Democratic Nation Convention in September.
This is at least the third time Bank of America has implemented a discriminatory policy against gun manufacturers. In early 2001, a scandal erupted over the bank’s attempt to discriminate against another Arizona-based company. The resulting public outrage forced a reversal of the policy.
In 2010, Bank of America attempted a similar action, and was again forced to “clarify” their position…
The boss emeritus devoted a column in January to BOA’s longstanding relationship with the Democrats:
During the 2010 midterm elections, former DNC chairman and ex-Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine secured a $15 million revolving line of credit at BofA and then finagled another $17 million loan from the taxpayer-bailed-out bank. According to Federal Election Commission records, BofA accepted as collateral the DNC’s donor mailing list. Yep, its donor mailing list for $32 million in loans. As investigative reporter Richard Pollock asked at the time: “What message does a largely unsecured $32 million credit line for the Democratic Party send to thousands of cash-starved small businesses across the nation who can’t secure any credit even with tangible assets?”…
Bank of America is to sweetheart loans and Democratic Party payoffs as Paula Deen is to sugar and bacon grease:
— The massively troubled bank raked in a middle-of-the-night, taxpayer-funded $45 billion banking bailout in 2008 and an estimated $931 billion in secret federal emergency loans.
— In 2008, BofA’s political action committee gave its biggest contributions to Barack Obama totaling $421,000.
Long story short: If the Democratic leadership needed a favor from BOA, the bank might be in a position where it felt obliged to comply even at the risk of some sort of political backlash on the right. And it’s true that BOA will have a major presence at the convention this year — as noted above, it’s being held in a stadium sponsored by the bank, in the city where BOA is headquartered — so in theory, there may be some pressure to divest from businesses that aren’t simpatico with the Democratic message. But to believe that is to ignore electoral reality. There’s a reason Obama, Pelosi, and Reid never went hard after guns when they had the numbers in Congress: It’s a potentially lethal issue for them in swing states like Pennsylvania and Ohio, where there are blue-collar gun owners who are willing to vote Democratic for economic reasons so long as they have no more important reason not to. If you think I’m exaggerating, go read this recent op-ed by Ohio’s Democratic former governor, Ted Strickland, attacking Romney on guns from the right. The last thing they’d want before the election, when they’re trying to pick off working-class whites in rural areas from Romney, is to throw a gun-grab scare into them. I think it’s more likely, actually, that BOA will get an angry call from a top Democrat telling them to knock this off than it is that they’ve gotten a call telling them to cut ties with gun owners. And no, there surely isn’t any pressure from the lefty base squeezing Democrats on this. They looked the other way while Obama tore up the War Powers Act in order to go to war in Libya. If they’re willing to tolerate that, do you really think they care who BOA does business with?
Exit question: What’s really going on here, then? Does someone in BOA management hate gun manufacturers so much that they’re willing to invite a boycott over it?