21 Apr 2020 Citigroup Takes Taxpayers’ Money While Trashing Their Constitutional Rights
Company Continues to Discriminate Against Firearms Industry While Receiving Bailout After Bailout
Washington, D.C. – Citigroup CEO Michael Corbat today reversed his admission that Citi’s aggressive anti-gun stance had cost the company money, dodging a question from the National Center for Public Policy Research’s Free Enterprise Project (FEP) about whether taxpayer bailouts present an additional obligation for the company to not discriminate against companies that engage in activities protected by the Second Amendment.
During the virtual annual shareholder meeting, FEP Coordinator Scott Shepard asked Corbat:
Last year at this meeting Citicorp admitted in response to a question from us that the corporation is losing money because of its aggressive anti-gun stance. It refuses to lend to some gun manufacturers and sellers, even though their activities are legal and constitutionally protected. Now we see Citicorp and other American banks getting a second set of bailouts and government supports in a dozen years, even while its directors and management have profited handsomely during the intervening years. Don’t you owe it to your taxpayer subsidizers to lend indiscriminately, without enacting a narrow partisan agenda?
Corbat answered, in part:
I would go back and like to see the record of losing money. I think what we’ve said is that we really haven’t seen any impact, any negative impact to our business in terms of business going away from us. But I think we’ve got to go back and look at the genesis of this. And this was around the belief that there were just too many tragedies. Something needed to be done. I was proud of our bank being the first to take action.
After the meeting, Shepard responded:
Citigroup is a respected American company with a history that runs back more than two centuries. It has been lending to American businesses since the War of 1812. But in recent years, Citigroup has taken significant subsidies and bailouts from U.S. taxpayers in times of financial crisis – even as other American businesses have gone under in significant number.
This makes Citigroup a privileged and protected company – protected by all of the taxpayers of this country. Given its debts – both literal and figurative – to every American taxpayer, the least it can do is to remain neutral in political battles and the culture wars. Instead, it has taken sides against our Second Amendment rights, refusing to lend to businesses in the firearms industry.
Mr. Corbat’s dodges today do not alter Citigroup’s obligations – both to its shareholders to maximize profitable business, and to its taxpayer rescuers not to take sides in live political issues.
Throwing away good business and solid investments is a bad move for investors. It’s a slap in the face to more than a hundred million Americans who take their Second Amendment rights very seriously. And it runs the risk that those snubbed taxpayers will demand additional oversight of, and interference with, Citigroup’s business.
The American banking industry has come to resemble a common-carrier public utility, one in which profits are private, but losses are covered by the public treasury. Such industries are obliged to serve all customers regardless of the personal whims or policy prejudices of the company’s management. Citigroup runs the risk of upsetting its convenient and lucrative niche if it takes bailouts of public money while undermining the constitutional rights of its benefactors.
To schedule an interview with a member of the Free Enterprise Project on this or other issues, contact Judy Kent at (703) 759-0269.
Launched in 2007, the National Center’s Free Enterprise Project focuses on shareholder activism and the confluence of big government and big business. Over the past four years alone, FEP representatives have participated in over 100 shareholder meetings – advancing free-market ideals about health care, energy, taxes, subsidies, regulations, religious freedom, food policies, media bias, gun rights, workers’ rights and other important public policy issues. As the leading voice for conservative-minded investors, it annually files more than 90 percent of all right-of-center shareholder resolutions. Dozens of liberal organizations, however, annually file more than 95 percent of all policy-oriented shareholder resolutions and continue to exert undue influence over corporate America.
FEP activity has been covered by media outlets including the New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Variety, the Associated Press, Bloomberg, Drudge Report, Business Insider, National Public Radio and SiriusXM. FEP’s work was prominently featured in Wall Street Journal writer Kimberley Strassel’s 2016 book The Intimidation Game: How the Left is Silencing Free Speech (Hachette Book Group).
The National Center for Public Policy Research, founded in 1982, is a non-partisan, free-market, independent conservative think-tank. Ninety-four percent of its support comes from individuals, less than four percent from foundations and less than two percent from corporations. It receives over 350,000 individual contributions a year from over 60,000 active recent contributors. Sign up for email updates here. Follow us on Twitter at @FreeEntProject and @NationalCenter for general announcements. To be alerted to upcoming media appearances by National Center staff, follow our media appearances Twitter account at @NCPPRMedia.