Sen. Tim Scott attacked “woke capitalism” in a hearing with Wall Street’s biggest bankers and questioned them about what aspect of Georgia’s new voting law is actually discriminatory.
The South Carolina Republican made the remarks on Wednesday during a major banking committee hearing with the chief executives of JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and Citigroup. He began by highlighting the apparent shift from shareholder capitalism toward stakeholder capitalism, which argues that corporate entities shouldn’t just prioritize shareholders but also focus value on customers, employees, suppliers, and communities.
“Woke capitalism seems to be running amuck” throughout the country’s financial institutions, Scott said, pointing out that of the banks present, Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, and Goldman Sachs, all signed a letter that ran in the New York Times and the Washington Post in which they vowed to “oppose any discriminatory legislation or measures that restrict or prevent any eligible voter from having an equal and fair opportunity to cast a ballot.”
While broad in nature, the letter came amid considerable corporate opposition to a Georgia voting law, which requires photo IDs in order to vote absentee by mail, limits absentee drop box locations, and changes some early voting scheduling procedures. Critics claimed that it was discriminatory against black and minority voters.
“Picking winners and losers in certain areas, especially in election law, I just want to understand your position on that very important law because I, as a Southerner and African American who voted in the South all of my life, would hate any form of discrimination. … What part of the law restricted voting rights or was discriminatory?” Scott asked the four executives who signed the letter.
Brian Moynihan, CEO of Bank of America, was the only executive who tried to address Scott’s query. He said the company’s environmental, social, and corporate governance committee weighed in on the move.
“In our view as a company, we believe that there ought to be a concerted effort to get this set of standards that we can all agree to because all of us, and including what you just said, is the access for people who are eligible to vote is paramount to having a great democracy,” he said. “It came out of our teammates like we make a lot of these decisions expressing grave concern.”
Scott then pivoted back to the main thrust of his question, which wasn’t about the decision to sign the letter but rather what was the specific aspect of the Georgia voting law that the bankers might have found discriminatory. The senator pointed out that the GOP-backed legislation actually increased the number of early voting days and codified the use of ballot drop boxes.
“If you are actually making it easier to vote but harder to cheat, what part of that law was discriminatory or restricted access? I’ve been studying the law. … From my perspective, and frankly from the words on the paper … it did not prevent anyone voting, and frankly, it made it easier to vote earlier,” he said.
Scott also expressed concern about big banks limiting exposure to politically fraught industries, such as the gun and oil industries.
“It seems like picking winners and losers in companies,” he said, adding that it appears to him that the actions of the banks are inconsistent with their stated support for capitalism.
The senator said he finds it “disheartening” as a former member of some of the institutions and as an account holder and member of others “that you all have taken such a strong clear position but can’t or won’t articulate the reason for that position.”
Scott then paused for about 15 seconds, staring straight into the camera and waiting for one of the executives to respond to his remarks — not one of the bankers did.
A notable absence from the letter on voting rights was JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, who also appeared at the hearing. While Dimon has expressed strong support for voting rights, he said during a recent interview that his bank would not be getting involved in the details of state voting laws and that employee pressure would not change that.
View original Post