From falsely declaring victory over Democrat Joe Biden in the middle of the night to delivering what one journalist described as "the most dishonest speech he has ever given," President Donald Trump has ramped up his attacks on American democracy since Election Day—and now a coalition of over 130 advocacy groups is pressuring leaders on Wall Street to call him out.
"After all the ways the public has bailed out these financial institutions, they have a moral responsibility to help defend our democracy during this dark hour."
—Amy Gray, Stop the Money PipelineIn the aftermath of Trump's lie-filled Thursday night address and with state vote counts in the tight presidential race favoring Biden, the Stop the Money Pipeline coalition—which launched in January and works to end the financing of fossil fuels—urged executives at major U.S. banks, insurance companies, and asset managers to publicly criticize the president's behavior this week.
"Trump is trying to steal the election and Wall Street is silent," declared Amy Gray, co-coordinator of the coalition. "The only thing that Trump cares about nearly as much as himself is the stock market. If Wall Street tells Trump and the GOP every vote must be counted, he might just listen. After all the ways the public has bailed out these financial institutions, they have a moral responsibility to help defend our democracy during this dark hour."
As millions of Americans were casting early ballots for the globally watched and monumentally consequential U.S. presidential contest amid a pandemic last month, groups with Stop the Money Pipeline sent a letter to the CEOs of nine financial institutions which said in part: "We know that Wall Street cannot, and should not, save our democracy. But any claim to civic leadership entails both the opportunity and the responsibility to help defend democracy in moments of crisis and potential peril."
Echoing a letter the Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility sent to over 200 corporations in October, the groups urged financial leaders to publicly proclaim the necessity of a free and fair election by issuing their own statement, signing on to one like the Leadership Now Project's "Business Statement on the Election," or making a commitment with the Civic Alliance.
Corporations can’t stay silent when our democracy is under attack.
— Stop the Money Pipeline (@StopMoneyPipe) November 6, 2020
The coalition recognized some corporations "made relatively bland statements" leading up to the election, including JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon. In an October memo to employees obtained by CNN Business, he wrote, "The peaceful and stable transition of power―whether it is to the second administration of a president or a new one―is a hallmark of America's 244-year history as an independent nation."
Dimon's memo came after Trump repeatedly refused to commit to a peaceful transition of power if Biden prevails in the November 3 contest. Biden's campaign said Friday that should the Democrat win and Trump refuse to concede, "the United States government is perfectly capable of escorting trespassers out of the White House."
"This is a once in a lifetime moment of consequence and we demand Wall Street leaders like Jamie Dimon rise to the occasion and make clear that above all else the preservation of our democracy must be prioritized at all costs."
—Paddy McCully, RANFollowing Trump's premature victory declaration early Wednesday, Dimon sent another memo to U.S. employees, according to CNN. He wrote that "while strong opinions and tremendous passion characterized this U.S. election, it is the responsibility of each of us to respect the democratic process, and ultimately, the outcome."
Expressing a "deep and abiding faith in the United States of America" and vowing to work with political leaders from both parties "no matter the outcome," Dimon said that once the race is called, "together we must move forward to address our nation's challenges." He added, "Let us all do what we can to strengthen our national union."
As the world's biggest funder of fossil fuels—based on a March analysis from Rainforest Action Network (RAN) and other campaign groups—Chase is one of the top three targets of the Stop the Money Pipeline coalition, along with the investment firm BlackRock and insurer Liberty Mutual.
In the coalition's statement, RAN climate and energy program director Paddy McCully urged Dimon and others to go further and denounce the president's efforts to cling to power through lies and lawsuits contesting the election results.
"This is a once in a lifetime moment of consequence," said McCully, "and we demand Wall Street leaders like Jamie Dimon rise to the occasion and make clear that above all else the preservation of our democracy must be prioritized at all costs."
"And preserving our democracy," he added, "means counting all the votes and being willing to shut down the economy and withdraw all forms of cooperation with an illegitimate regime if Trump follows through on threats to undermine our democratic systems to hold onto power."