Sen. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) also signed the letter, which went to several industry trade groups, including the Mortgage Bankers Association and the National Association of Federal Credit Unions.
Bannon, the former head of Breitbart News, has been lambasted for his ties to white nationalism. Trump selected him earlier this week to serve as the administration’s chief strategist and senior counselor. But the lawmakers said his appointment would legitimize racial and religious bigotry, and called on financial services industry leaders to oppose it.
“This appointment will put a bigot beloved by white supremacists and supported by the American Nazi Party and the KKK a few steps from the Oval Office and empower him to influence every major decision the next President makes,” the lawmakers wrote. “It is a clear sign that bigotry – against women, against African Americans, against Hispanics, against Jews and Muslims – will play a central role in the Trump administration.”
Bannon has declared that Breitbart is “a platform for the alt-right,” a political movement with strong ties to white nationalism. The letter pointed out that Breitbart had become a clearinghouse for stories with racist and misogynist leanings and that court documents report Bannon himself making anti-Semitic and misogynist remarks.
“As leaders in the business community, you have a moral obligation to speak out against this appointment as contrary to the values of this country and to the values of your industry,” they wrote. “We urge you to condemn this appointment immediately and without reservation.”
“This moment is a test of the moral leadership of the banking and finance community,” they added. “You surely recognize that the views Mr. Bannon espouses and promotes have no place in the White House – just as they have no place in the companies you operate. His influence could lead the next administration to gut the laws that protect Americans from discrimination, and you have a clear opportunity to announce unequivocally that the banking and finance industry will not tolerate bigotry and prejudice. What message will it send to your customers and employees if you remain silent?”
Four lawmakers, including Elizabeth Warren and Sherrod Brown, have sent a letter demanding that the financial services industry condemn the appointment of controversial Trump advisor Steve Bannon to the president-elect’s administration.