Democrats Demand Probe to Determine If Official Pressured Bank on Gun Policy

Democratic Senators demand the top watchdog at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to probe if a commissioner attempted to influence Citigroup to rollback their new policies which ban business with firearms manufacturers.

On Wednesday Democrats led by Senator Chris Van Hollen sent a letter to Carl Hoecker, the inspector general at the SEC, requiring for him to investigate the remarks Commissioner Michael Piwowar reportedly made to Citigroup at a meeting earlier this year.

“We do have concerns that Commissioner Piwowar may have abused his government position in an attempt to unduly influence Citigroup to reverse a business decision that conflicts with his personal and political views,” the Democratic lawmakers wrote in their letter. They also said that they want Hoecker’s office to investigate the incident and “take action as appropriate.”

According to Bloomberg, during a meeting last month with Citigroup scheduled to be on derivatives regulation, Piwowar, a Republican appointee to the commission, pushed the bank on “straying into social policy.”

Citigroup in March stated that it would start demanding from their clients to enforce restrictions on gun sales, like banning the sale of firearms to anyone under the age of 21, requiring retail clients to only sell guns to individuals who pass a background check and to not sell bump stocks or high-capacity magazines.

Meanwhile, the executives at the meeting between the SEC and Citigroup took Piwowar’s remarks as a “thinly veiled threat.” Apparently, Piwowar warned that the bank could have trouble getting the votes of GOP appointees on the SEC on easing derivative regulations because of its actions on gun control.

The Democratic senators called Piwowar’s threats “alarming,” adding that they could violate the Standards of Ethical Conduct for executive branch employees.

“The SEC should base regulatory decisions on facts and merits, not on unrelated corporate practices that a particular Commissioner dislikes or that are disliked by organizations they support,” they wrote in the letter on Wednesday. “Further, we ask that you investigate whether Mr. Piwowar observed proper rules and procedures with regard to the Federal Sunshine Act, as the meeting in question was in connection to a rule that is currently being considered by the SEC,” the Democratic senators continued.

Republicans have lashed out at Citigroup and Bank of America, which said earlier this year that it would not “underwrite or finance military-style firearms,” over their changes on new gun policies, The Hill wrote.

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