Error message

Deprecated function: The each() function is deprecated. This message will be suppressed on further calls in menu_set_active_trail() (line 2405 of /home/dbrian/pennydean.org/includes/menu.inc).

Federal Judge Says It's Plausible That Andrew Cuomo Violated the First Amendment by Pressuring Banks and Insurers to Shun the NRA

Last night a federal judge said the National Rifle Association may proceed with a lawsuit that claims New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is violating the First Amendment by pressuring banks and insurers to shun the NRA and "similar gun promotion organizations." U.S. District Judge Thomas McAvoy questioned Cuomo's claim that his messages about the wisdom and propriety of providing financial services to the NRA amount to nothing but legitimate regulatory oversight and protected government speech.

As I explained in my column today, and as McAvoy describes in his decision, there is strong evidence that Cuomo and Maria Vullo, superintendent of the New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS), are in fact threatening banks and insurers that dare to do business with organizations that oppose the governor's gun control agenda.

In a press release last April, Cuomo said he was "directing the Department of Financial Services to urge insurers and bankers statewide to determine whether any relationship they may have with the NRA or similar organizations sends the wrong message to their clients and their communities." Vullo was more explicit, saying "DFS urges all insurance companies and banks doing business in New York to join the companies that have already discontinued their arrangements with the NRA."

Guidance memos that Vullo sent to banks and insurance companies that day communicated the same message, warning that "reputational risks...may arise from their dealings with the NRA or similar gun promotion organizations" and urging "prompt actions to manage these risks." The next day, Cuomo tweeted: "The NRA is an extremist organization. I urge companies in New York State to revisit any ties they have to the NRA and consider their reputations, and responsibility to the public."

The press release, memos, and tweet were quickly followed by consent degrees in which the companies that had managed and underwritten the NRA's Carry Guard insurance program in New York not only agreed to pay fines for violations of state law but promised to stop doing business with the NRA. During this period, according to the NRA, Vullo's department engaged in "backroom exhortations," warning "banks and insurers with known or suspected ties to the NRA that they would face regulatory action" if they failed to cut ties.

"The temporal proximity between the Cuomo Press Release, the Guidance Letters, and the Consent Orders plausibly suggests that the timing was intended to reinforce the message that insurers and financial institutions that do not sever ties with the NRA will be subject to retaliatory action by the state," McAvoy notes. "The allegations in the Amended Complaint are sufficient to create a plausible inference that the Guidance Letters and Cuomo Press Release, when read together and in the context of the alleged backroom exhortations and the public announcements of the Consent Orders, constituted implicit threats of adverse action against financial institutions and insurers that did not disassociate from the NRA."

Read more at https://reason.com/blog/2018/11/07/federal-judge-says-its-plausible-that-an