Governor Cuomo Caught Violating the First Amendment?
Article from Reason by Jacob Sullum.
Last night a federal judge said the National Rifle Association may proceed with a lawsuit that claims New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is violating the First Amendment by pressuring banks and insurers to shun the NRA and “similar gun promotion organizations.” U.S. District Judge Thomas McAvoy questioned Cuomo’s claim that his messages about the wisdom and propriety of providing financial services to the NRA amount to nothing but legitimate regulatory oversight and protected government speech.
As I explained in my column today, and as McAvoy describes in his decision, there is strong evidence that Cuomo and Maria Vullo, superintendent of the New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS), are in fact threatening banks and insurers that dare to do business with organizations that oppose the governor’s gun control agenda.
In a press release last April, Cuomo said he was “directing the Department of Financial Services to urge insurers and bankers statewide to determine whether any relationship they may have with the NRA or similar organizations sends the wrong message to their clients and their communities.” Vullo was more explicit, saying “DFS urges all insurance companies and banks doing business in New York to join the companies that have already discontinued their arrangements with the NRA.”
Guidance memos that Vullo sent to banks and insurance companies that day communicated the same message, warning that “reputational risks…may arise from their dealings with the NRA or similar gun promotion organizations” and urging “prompt actions to manage these risks.” The next day, Cuomo tweeted: “The NRA is an extremist organization. I urge companies in New York State to revisit any ties they have to the NRA and consider their reputations, and responsibility to the public.”
Read the entire article at Reason.
Image Credit: By KAZ Vorpal (Flickr: Declaration of Independence, with Firearm) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons