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Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Political Banking: Is Your Business Next?

A late-March letter to Florida pawnshop owner Steve Champion from his bank requires him to “immediately begin closing all of [his] SunTrust deposit accounts, safe deposit boxes and credit cards.” The letter also notes the bank’s decision cannot be reversed. The shop is a federally licensed firearms dealer as well.

A spokesman for SunTrust claims that the bank has been severing relationships with pawnshops—not gun shops—since last year, in line with federal guidelines that are embodied in Operation Choke Point, a Department of Justice program aimed at ending bank fraud. Yet a SunTrust employee told Champion what he’d received was indeed a “gun letter,” adding that firearms sellers across the nation were receiving like missives.

Several other cases like this involving other banks have been reported around the country. We’ll cut to the chase: Will your politically unapproved business soon find its way on to a similar list?