Don’t be fooled by the hollow statements of the past few weeks.
In the days after the Jan. 6 violent attempted coup on the nation’s Capitol, Wall Street’s calls to “end the violence” and its oblivious and cliched claim that our country is somehow “better than this” rang even more hollow than usual. Wall Street is not “better than this.” Megabanks and private equity firms not only supported Donald Trump throughout his campaign and his four years in office, but they’ve also financially backed white supremacy through political donations. For that reason, Wall Street is complicit in the violent, white supremacist-led attempted coup on the nation’s Capitol. It is now time for Wall Street to open its books to a sedition audit—a public accounting of all its political donations and to show whether Wall Street banks have supported white supremacist organizations through their depository or financing platforms.
There is much to be accounted for and held accountable for. The American Bankers Association (ABA), a banking industry lobbying group, is the second-largest donor to the 147 Republicans who voted against certifying the 2020 presidential election vote. But it doesn’t stop there, as reported by the Center for Responsive Politics, the ABA donated to the Freedom Fund PAC, which supported the troubling actions of congressional representatives like Rep. Lauren Boebert, who alerted the violent, insurrectionist mob of the secure location of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi during the attack on the Capitol. In addition, the ABA donated to the Patriots in Action PAC, which supported Donald Trump’s “stop the steal” efforts. And it doesn’t stop there. Charles Schwab Bank and Wells Fargo are amongst the largest donors to Sen. Josh Hawley, who was the first Republic Senator to announce he would challenge the election certification.
The violent attempted coup on the Capitol is not the first Wall Street-backed act of white supremacy. After all, banks financed the slave trade, redlined neighborhoods, and continue to discriminate against Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. This is the business of Wall Street.
Wall Street banks claimed to have suddenly found their moral center after the coup failed, with JPMorgan Chase Inc. and Citigroup Inc. announcing plans to halt political donations to both parties. The big banks are hoping to jump off a sinking ship and wash themselves of the stench of the events of Jan. 6, where five people died, including a Capitol police officer.
Wall Street has an ugly history of white supremacy. For the good of our democracy, it’s important that Wall Street banks face this history and take corrective measures now. Internal audits just won’t do. We need to see their books and business dealings. A sedition audit that discloses all political contributions made, including donations made directly, through all subsidiaries and executives, and through PACs to Trump and the 147 lawmakers who voted to overturn the election, needs to be the starting point. But it can’t stop there. Restitution must be made for the harm Wall Street has caused. And, the only way to do that is a full and transparent accounting of that harm to the communities who have borne the brunt of it. Otherwise, Wall Street will go back to business as usual.