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SunTrust Reverses Decision On Conservative Benham Brothers

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Alex Pappas
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      Alex Pappas

      Alex Pappas is a Washington D.C.-based political reporter for The Daily Caller. He has also written for The Washington Examiner and the Mobile Press-Register. Pappas is a graduate of The University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn., where he was editor-in-chief of The Sewanee Purple. While in college, he did internships at NBC's Meet the Press and the White House. He grew up in Mobile, Ala., where he graduated from St. Paul's Episcopal School. He and his wife live on Capitol Hill.

After an uproar from conservative customers, SunTrust Banks announced Friday afternoon that the decision to end its relationship with real estate entrepreneurs David and Jason Benham had been reversed.

Earlier Friday, The Daily Caller reported that SunTrust Banks had pulled all of its listed properties with the Benham brothers’ bank-owned property business.

The move came just a week after HGTV announced it was canceling a planned home renovation show hosted by the Benhams because of their conservative views on abortion and gay marriage.

By Friday afternoon, SunTrust released a statement saying the decision had been reversed. The bank didn’t go into detail about why they originally cut ties with the Benham brothers, though SunTrust said the decision was made by a third party vendor. TheDC reported earlier Friday that the vendor had told a Benham Brothers franchisee that the bank itself made the decision.

“We clarified our policies with our vendor and they have reinstated the listings with Benham Real Estate,” SunTrust spokeswoman Beth McKenna said.

“Mid-2013, we consolidated the management of certain residential assets with a third party vendor, which has the relationship with Benham Real Estate,” McKenna added. “While we do not publicly comment on specific vendor relationships, we don’t make choices on suppliers nor base business decisions on political factors, nor do we direct our third party vendors to do so.”

Added McKenna: “SunTrust supports the rights of all Americans to fully exercise their freedoms granted under the Constitution, including those with respect to free speech and freedom of religion.”

After publication of TheDC’s story earlier Friday, conservatives expressed outrage at the bank.

“SunTrust Banks appears to have punished David and Jason Benham by taking action against their business purely based on their Christian beliefs,” said Chris Stone, the founder of Faith Driven Consumer. “This sends a loud and clear message to people of faith in America, you’re not welcome at SunTrust, take your business somewhere else.”

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