BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — A Louisiana resident is challenging the state Bond Commission’s decision to exclude two large banks from underwriting state contracts because of the banks’ corporate policies regarding firearms businesses.
The Advocate reports that the lawsuit was filed Wednesday in state court in Baton Rouge. The lawsuit argues that the move last spring exceeded the Bond Commission’s authority, broke state rules and cost taxpayers by limiting competition for the work.
Bank of America was excluded because it stopped issuing loans to some makers of military-style rifles. Citigroup was excluded for requiring retail clients to require background checks for firearm purchases, refuse to sell to anyone under 21 and quit selling bump stocks and high-capacity magazines.
State Treasurer John Schroder, a Republican who chairs the Bond Commission, declined to comment through a spokeswoman on the lawsuit because his office had not been officially received a copy.
David LaCerte, a Baton Rouge attorney, filed the lawsuit.
“The Bond Commission put in place an unconstitutional and arbitrary litmus test, and it did so despite concerns from its own members about the costs these actions could bring,” LaCerte said.
“Addressing gun violence is one of the most pressing issues in our state and our country. While people may not always agree on the solutions, when public officials pull political stunts that could cost taxpayers money, there needs to be accountability,” Sandra Brown, a Baton Rouge resident and the named plaintiff in the suit, said in a statement. “The Bond Commission let us down.”
The decision to toss out Bank of America and Citigroup’s proposals may have cost taxpayers around $50,000, a review of records by The Advocate found, because the banks sought lower fees on the bonds than other bidders.
State Attorney General Jeff Landry and state Rep. Blake Miguez of Erath, both Republicans, pressed the Bond Commission to block the banks from underwriting more than $600 million in bonds to finance highway projects, including widening Interstate 10 in Baton Rouge and a new interstate link to Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport.
Republican State Senate President John Alario of Westwego and Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards’ administration, opposed the move, arguing it could disrupt important bond sales and potentially leave the state paying higher fees.