In the climax to a fight which has been brewing for months, the Louisiana Bond Commission just passed a resolution by a razor-thin 7-6 margin to disqualify two Wall Street banks as underwriters for state bonds because those banks discriminate against gun sellers and manufacturers.
This issue came up at the Bond Commission meeting in April, when the resolution was first brought up. What happened then was that Gov. John Bel Edwards had his executive counsel Matthew Block bring up a substitute, watered-down resolution which meant nothing to the policy aim the conservatives on the bond commission sought to achieve, and managed to pass the placebo resolution on an 8-6 vote. Edwards put out a statement after the fact decrying the attempt to disqualify Bank of America and Citigroup as underwriters of Louisiana’s bond debt as “political posturing,” which was a nice window into the passion the governor has for gun rights.
The State Bond Commission barred two of the largest banks in the world from participating in efforts to fund some highway projects in Louisiana because of gun sales policies instituted after recent mass shootings.
On 7-6 vote, the commission decided not to grade the bids of Citibank and Bank of America.
State Treasurer John Schroder made the motion.
“I personally believe that these policies are an infringement,” of Louisiana citizens’ constitutional right to purchase guns, Schroder said.
“It puts us in an awkward position,” said Senate President John Alario Jr., R-Westwego and a member of the Bond Commission.
Excluding Bank of America and Citibank from the process because of a social policy could open state to litigation.
“And I am worried about the bottom line to the state of Louisiana,” Alario said. The commission’s chief consultant said the move would cost the state taxpayers more in terms of interest on the loans.
Matthew Block, the governor’s executive counsel, agreed. “We owe it, all of us, to the taxpayers, to understand the decision we are making,” Block said.
“You can’t put a price tag on the Second Amendment,” state Rep. Blake Miguez, an Erath Republican who was serving as a proxy Representative of the House, adding that he thought the policies infringed on the constitutional rights of Louisiana citizens.
The seven Bond Commission members voting for the resolution were Schroder, Miguez, Attorney General Jeff Landry, House Speaker Taylor Barras Republican state representatives Mike Huval of Lafayette and Phillip Devillier of Eunice, and interim Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin – who may have made his bones as a conservative with his vote today. Opposed were Block, representing Edwards, Alario, Division of Adminstration counsel Rick McGimsey, representing Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne, and State Sens. Eric LaFleur (D-Ville Platte), Jay Luneau (D-Alexandria) and Gary Smith (D-LaPlace).
“Today on the Bond Commission, I voted against the big banks and voted to uphold the second amendment rights of law abiding citizens of this state,” Ardoin said on his official Facebook. “Just as our citizens have the right to vote, the right to bear arms is one of the freedoms we hold as Americans.”
Louisiana’s Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser, whose representative voted for the placebo resolution in April, played hooky this time. Neither Nungesser or any of his representatives were in the building for this meeting.
So what happens now? Well, there are a dozen banks or more capable of underwriting the $600 million or so of Louisiana bonds set to be underwritten, and Bank of America and Citigroup are only two. The argument that by disqualifying them while they hold anti-gun policies – B of A says they won’t do business with gun manufacturers who make “military-style weapons” (which is pitifully poorly defined, something which was made clear in testimony at the Bond Commission today), while Citigroup won’t allow its banking clients to sell guns to anyone under 21 (gun ownership under 21 is legal in every state in the union) – Louisiana is going to raise its bond financing costs is laughable.
This was never a particularly substantial issue. It’s much more symbolic, but that doesn’t make it unimportant. In fact, it’s a very important step, because the Left is hard at work attempting to co-opt corporate America to enforce social-justice policy goals without a vote of the public. Doing this is a way to impose a political agenda without the political process and, it’s hoped, any measurable negative consequences.
Except today there were consequences. Those two banks just lost a shot at $600 million in business because of petty, stupid anti-gun virtue signalling by their CEO’s and/or PR departments, and Louisiana actually took the lead in fighting back against leftist cultural aggression in a meaningful way.
Other states will likely follow suit, and when they do you’re going to see some pullback by corporate America from participating in the kind of dopey cultural Marxism B of A and Citigroup stepped in when they waded into the post-Parkland gun debate.
So to Landry, Schroder, Ardoin, Miguez, Barras, Huval and Devillier, well done. To Edwards, you can stop lying about what a conservative you are. And to Nungesser, you might have just earned yourself a Republican challenger in next year’s elections, and we wouldn’t bet on you surviving that challenge.