Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) went viral this month for grilling Wells Fargo CEO Timothy Sloan, who was testifying before the House Financial Services Committee in a hearing meant to hold "megabanks" accountable.
Ocasio-Cortez questioned Sloan why Wells Fargo was "involved in the caging of children and financing the caging of children." The freshman lawmaker even later suggested Wells Fargo should be held partially liable for environmental clean-ups because the bank finances projects that counter the climate change agenda.
Now, according to Politico, Ocasio-Cortez and other progressive lawmakers plan to use similar tactics to advance their anti-Second Amendment agenda and circumvent the legislative process.
What are the details?
Ocasio-Cortez and her allies are joining veteran Democratic lawmakers to try to "shame" America's massive financial institutions "into taking a stand on some of the country's most divisive issues: climate change, gun violence and immigration," Politico reported.
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The lawmakers are leveraging seats on the powerful House Financial Services Committee and a huge following on social media to confront finance industry executives and discourage them from funding oil pipelines, firearms makers and private prison companies that operate immigration detention centers. Like-minded activist groups are helping amplify the message.
Ocasio-Cortez even slyly admitted to Politico that part of applying pressure on banks to initiate the change she wants is to circumvent Congress.
"There's more than one way to skin a cat, and not everything has to be done through legislation explicitly," she said. "We can also use the tools that we have here to pressure change in other ways as well."
Will the plan work?
If history indicates future success, then Democrats could be highly successful in implementing sweeping changes by pressuring banks. JPMorgan and Wells Fargo announced earlier this month it would cut all ties with prisons after Ocasio-Cortez and progressive activists pressured the banks to do so.
The plan even worked last year against the National Rifle Association. In the wake of the Parkland, Florida, massacre, millions of Americans boycotted the NRA, which forced First National Bank to sever ties with the pro-gun organization. The bank had supplied the NRA with its branded credit card.
Karen Shaw Petrou, a managing partner at Federal Financial Analytics, told Politico banks are unusually susceptible to public pressure.
"Banks are acutely sensitive about their reputations because they are in a business acutely susceptible to severe and sudden customer attrition if consumers vote with their wallets," she explained. "As a highly regulated business, banks are also acutely aware of how changing reputations alter their political-risk profile and what Congress can do to them when and if desired."