Louisiana’s State Bond Commission has kicked two international banks to the curb and prohibited them from bidding on road projects following their Second Amendment posturing and policy decisions.
Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Citigroup Inc., the nation’s second- and third-largests banks, were narrowly voted out of the bidding process to help finance road work in Louisiana. At stake is a $600 million project in Baton Rouge, the state’s capitol, along with work near Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport and Shreveport.
The bond committee voted 7-6 to exclude the banks. Those against inclusion followed the lead of Louisiana State Treasurer John Schroder, who made the motion against Citi and BoA. Schroder said the two banks’ actions against gun manufacturers and other businesses, coming in the wake of the 2017 Parkland school shooting, were constitutional infringements on lawful firearms owners.
“As treasurer and chairman of the Bond Commission it is one of my duties to help hire financial professionals and not necessarily social engineers,” Schroder said. The Advocate of Baton Rouge said BoA has about 18 percent of Louisiana’s general obligation bonds and Citibank has about 5 percent. The newspaper reported that Schroder said he would consider the state’s relationship with the banks when those bond contracts expire.
After the Parkland shooting, Citigroup said it would stop doing business with retailers that sell high capacity magazines or sell guns to people without specific restrictions including age and background checks. Bank of America stopped loaning money to gun manufacturers that produce AR-style rifles for civilian use.
Louisiana Senate President John Alario, a Republican from Westwego across the Mississippi River from New Orleans, said the commission’s decision might not be the best idea. He said denying banks from the process for social decisions might spur legal action. Additionally, not including them could lead to higher bond rates and cost taxpayers more money.