SunTrust Banks says the accusation that they severed ties with the Benham brothers because of their conservative religious and political beliefs is “inaccurate.”
“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,” spokesman Michael McCoy said in a statement Friday afternoon.
Earlier Friday, The Daily Caller published a story about how SunTrust Banks has pulled all of its listed properties with the Benham brothers bank-owned property broker business.
The move comes just a week after HGTV announced it was canceling a planned home renovation show hosted by the brothers. Liberal activists have attacked the Benhams for their conservative views on abortion and gay marriage.
“As Americans we find ourselves at a crossroads and are forced with a decision to either stand up or sit down,” David Benham said in a statement. “Evidently, SunTrust’s longstanding commitment to diversity must not include our historic Christian values.”
In an afternoon statement, the bank deflected responsibility, explaining that a third party vendor is responsible for the break-up.
“Mid-2013, we consolidated the management of certain residential assets with a third party vendor, which has the relationship with Benham Real Estate,” McCoy said. “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.”
McCoy added: “The characterization in the media with respect to this matter is inaccurate. We are contacting our third party supplier who works with Benham Real Estate to clarify our policies.”
But these claims from SunTrust have holes in them:
The timing is suspicious. If it’s “inaccurate” that the relationship between the bank and the Benhams was severed because of their political views, why did this relationship come to an end a week after HGTV cancelled their show because of their beliefs?
Previous statements indicate SunTrust was directly involved. When The Daily Caller first reported this story, a SunTrust corporate spokesman acknowledged: “We continuously review our supplier relationships and changes to the list of companies we rely on for services is a natural part of our business, however we do not publicly comment on specific vender relationships.”
Emails from vendor blame SunTrust. TheDC reported earlier Friday about an email obtained between Benham franchisee Joel Morimanno of BENHAM Real Estate of SW Florida and SunTrust’s third-party asset management company. In the email, the vender blamed the decision on SunTrust. “Unfortunately the seller (SunTrust) is asking for this property to be re-assigned. This was the direct clients (SunTrust) request. I really appreciate all your efforts on this property…This one is out of our control. It is really nothing you did.”