After last week’s news that American Express, Mastercard, and Visa plan to keep lists of those who purchase weapons using their credit card services, Tennessee’s attorney general is leading a coalition of 24 of his peers from various states in opposition of that plan.
“Giant financial companies must not use their combined market power to circumvent our representative democracy,” Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti said. “As Attorney General, I protect the people of Tennessee from corporate collusion that threatens to undermine their constitutional rights. Working together with my colleagues from other states, we will marshal the full scope of our lawful authority to stop this abuse.”
In a letter to the CEOs of those major companies, Skrmetti and the other attorneys general say the plan “creates the obvious risk that law-abiding consumers’ information will be obtained and misused by those who oppose Americans exercising their Second Amendment rights.”
They also say the effort is a “result of transnational collusion between large corporations leveraging their market power to further progress toward their desired social outcomes.”
“Press releases from public officials make clear that the new merchant code was created and adopted in concert with various state actors, which may additionally create the potential for both civil and criminal liability for conspiracy to deprive Americans of their civil rights,” according to the letter. “Social policy should be debated and determined within our political institutions. Americans are tired of seeing corporate leverage used to advance political goals that cannot muster basic democratic support. The Second Amendment is a fundamental right, but it’s also a fundamental American value. Our financial institutions should stop lending their market power to those who wish to attack that value.”
Skrmetti spent Monday morning in-studio with The Tennessee Star’s Editor-in-Chief and CEO, Michael Patrick Leahy.
During the wide-ranging interview, he told Leahy that companies are beginning to have an outsized influence on American politics.
So, ESG stands for environmental, social, and governance. And the broad idea here is you’ve got people with a lot of market power, and it started out in the financial sector. I think you’ve seen it spread to other big industries where the folks in boardrooms have decided they know what’s best for the world, and they’re going to use their market power, which gives them incredible amounts of leverage to try to push society in the directions they want.
And it’s just straight-up oligarchy. We have a constitutional republic. We have a representative democracy. Any time we’re going to see new rules apply to society, they have to go through established political processes that are designed to give everybody a voice.
And nobody’s naive about it. We understand there are people who, by virtue of their fortune, by virtue of their platform, and of their celebrity, are going to have some sort of outsized influence in that process. But at the end of the day, everybody has a vote.
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Pete D’Abrosca is a reporter at The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network. Follow Pete on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photos “Tennessee Attorney General Office” and “AG John Skrmetti” by the Tennessee Attorney General’s Office.