The Rev. Mark Whitlock, executive director of the Cecil Murray Center for Community Engagement, is bringing religion to the financial pages.
Whitlock played an active role in the public hearings on the proposed merger between OneWest Bank and CIT Group. He is part of a coalition of minority, church and community groups that support the merger. The National Diversity Coalition brought out 225 community leaders to the public hearing. They say that the merged banks will better serve low-income communities.
After two activist groups demanded an investigation of the two banks’ corporate philanthropy, Whitlock helped pen an opinion piece on the impact of such scrutiny. He and co-author Gilbert R. Vasquez are founding members of the National Diversity Coalition.
Here’s an excerpt of the piece, published in the American Banker:
Thousands of nonprofits across the nation seek donations from the world’s largest innovative philanthropic mechanism: corporate America. Last week, two California activist groups, the Greenlining Institute and the California Reinvestment Coalition, inadvertently challenged this generally successful multibillion-dollar corporate philanthropy model. Each submitted public letters to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Federal Reserve demanding an investigation of corporate philanthropy by OneWest Bank and the CIT Group in light of the banks’ proposed merger.
This unusual demand could set a potentially harmful precedent. There will be an increasing number of bank mergers and acquisitions over the next five years. Scrutinizing the philanthropic contributions of virtually all large and midsize banks could wind up putting contributions in jeopardy.
Banks usually try to avoid actions that could ensnare them in additional red tape and oversight. Therefore adding this sort of unnecessary regulatory hurdle could create too onerous of a burden on donations and stifle innovative and effective mechanisms for contributions.
Bank donations have taken on even more importance since many nonprofits have experienced precipitous declines in government funding in the aftermath of the financial crisis beginning in 2007.
Whitlock is also the senior pastor for Christ Our Redeemer Church in Irvine and chair of the Orange County Interdenominational Alliance. Vasquez is the chairman of the Los Angeles Latino Chamber of Commerce and chairman of the largest Latino CPA firm in the nation.