A former United States ambassador for religious freedom says Chase Bank abruptly closed an account associated with his nonpartisan, faith-based nonprofit organization with little explanation.
The National Committee for Religious Freedom (NCRF), a 501(c)4 political action nonprofit, opened an account with Chase in April.
According to Sam Brownback, the group’s chairman and the former U.S. ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom under the Trump administration, the bank decided to “end their relationship” with NCRF and close the account after only three weeks.
“We were surprised at being canceled by Chase,” Brownback wrote in an op-ed published in the Washington Examiner. When our executive director called to see if this was an error, he was informed that ‘a note in the file read that Chase employees were not permitted to provide any further clarifying information to the customer.’”
NCRF Executive Director Justin Murff reached out for more information but was told the decision was made at the “corporate” level and was “final and nonrevocable”.
“Why the cancellation? Why the secrecy and lack of transparency? Why was Chase hiding its reasons and intentions for closing the account of a client that seeks to serve the public good and defend religious freedom for every person in America,” Brownback questioned.
The bank later stated the group had not provided requested documentation in a 60-day timeframe, but Brownback notes the account was only open for 20 days before it was closed.
“To this day, the NCRF does not have a clear reason as to why our account was closed after only three weeks,” he said. “We certainly hadn’t made any transactions in that short amount of time that would have triggered any regulatory red flags.”
Murff was later told by a Chase employee identified as “Chi-Chi” that it might be possible to continue the business relationship if NCRF could provide more information about the nonprofit’s activities.
Specifically, they wanted a donor list, a list of political candidates NCRF intended to support, and a full explanation of the criteria by which they would endorse and support those candidates.
“It was entirely inappropriate to ask for this type of information. Does Chase ask every customer what politicians they support and why before deciding whether or not to accept them as a customer?” Brownback asked in his op-ed.