Non-profit

Americans for Financial Reform

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(4)

Type:

Financial Policy Advocacy Group

Executive Director:

Lisa Donner

Project of:

Leadership Conference Education Fund

Americans for Financial Reform is a left-of-center political alliance of 200 left-leaning organizations seeking stricter regulations on the financial industry. It is a project of the Leadership Conference Education Fund. [1] [2] The group’s priorities include greater oversight and regulation of the banking industry and changes to the way financial institutions are involved in the housing market.[3] It was involved in crafting and passing legislation which created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).[4]

Members include left-of-center and far-left groups including the AARP, Economic Policy Institute, unions like American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), Service Employees International Union (SEIU), dozens of state-level Public Interest Network-affiliated “PIRG” groups, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Color of Change, and MoveOn.org Political Action.[5]

Mission

Americans for Financial Reform’s mission is to change the financial and banking industries through greater regulatory oversight and other goals. It played a key role in developing and pushing passage of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in 2010 in partnership with now-Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).[6]

The organization advocates against bailouts of large financial institutions “too big to fail,” for regulations on executive compensation and financial industry transparency, for bans on certain short-term loan products, and “meaningful limits” on the involvement of the financial sector on legislative and regulatory oversight of the financial and banking industries.[7]

Activities

The left-leaning funders group Democracy Alliance highlighted Americans for Financial Reform for its efforts to sustain the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau against conservative opposition to it under the Trump administration.[8]

U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), the Ranking Member of the Senate Banking Committee, said in a 2018 speech to a coalition event organized by Americans for Financial Reform that the group was “one of the main reasons we secured Wall Street Reform” in 2010.[9] His colleague, former Obama administration Special Advisor for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) spoke at the same event.[10]

Americans for Financial Reform issues reports about the financial industry. In March 2019, it reported that upper-income wealth had gone up since 2007, and that the financial industry was overstretched in ways similar to those which led to the 2007 crash.[11] In February 2019, it issued a report highlighting how Members of Congress voted on rollbacks of provisions of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.[12]

Americans for Financial Reform is regularly cited by press outlets about financial industry news. It opposed a Securities and Exchange Commission broker conflict of interest rule which regulators put forth in June 2019.[13] A Forbes contributor highlighted an event which Americans for Financial Reform held on Capitol Hill at which the contributor and others spoke about oversight of the financial industry.[14]

Controversy

Joseph “Jose” Alcoff, a former Americans for Financial Reform organizer, was identified by conservative-leaning news outlets as “Jose Martin,” the pseudonymous leader of the Antifa-aligned “direct action” group Smash Racism DC in late 2018.[15] [16] Alcoff had met with government officials, most prominently former Consumer Financial Protection Bureau head Richard Cordray, as a representative of Americans for Financial Reform.[17]

Alcoff would later be identified by two U.S. Marines who were attacked by an Antifa mob in Philadelphia as having participated in the attack; he was charged with assault, among other offenses.[18] Alcoff pleaded not guilty and as of May 2019 was awaiting trial; when asked if Americans for Financial Reform had fired Alcoff after his alleged involvement in Antifa was exposed, an AFR spokesperson said, “As of December, Mr. Alcoff no longer works for AFR.”[19] [20]

Sister Groups

Americans for Financial Reform has two sister groups. Americans for Financial Reform Activism Fund was founded by The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and is a 501(c)(4) organization Americans for Financial Reform Education Fund is a 501(c)(3) organization.[21] [22]

Leadership

Lisa Donner is executive director of Americans for Financial Reform. Donner has worked for many left-of-center advocacy organizations. She was a union organizer with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), worked for the defunct left-wing group ACORN, and co-led the Center for Working Families.[23] Gynnie Robnett is chief operating officer.[24]

Funding

Americans for Financial Reform receives funding from its parent organization, Leadership Conference Education Fund. In 2017, The Leadership Conference Education Fund provided $1,374,405 to Americans for Financial Reform. This was 15 percent of the Fund’s operating expenses that year.[25] [26] Americans for Financial Reform received over $1.5 million in 2016 and just over one million dollars in 2015.[27]

Bauman Foundation donated $25,000 to The Leadership Conference Education Fund in 2014 and 2015, respectively, for purposes of funding Americans for Financial Reform.[28]

Arca Foundation has provided over $500,000 to the Leadership Conference Education Fund for Americans for Financial Reform since 2012.[29]

References

  1. “Americans for Financial Reform.” Democracy Alliance. Accessed June 25, 2019. https://democracyalliance.org/organization/americans-for-financial-reform
  2. Legal Defense and Educational Fund, “Vanita Gupta to be New President and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights,” March 23, 2017. Accessed June 10, 2019. https://www.naacpldf.org/press-release/vanita-gupta-to-be-new-president-and-ceo-of-the-leadership-conference-on-civil-and-human-rights/
  3. Americans for Financial Reform, About Us, Accessed June 10, 2019. https://ourfinancialsecurity.org/about/
  4. Ballotpedia, Americans for Financial Reform, Accessed June 10, 2019. https://ballotpedia.org/Americans_for_Financial_Reform
  5. Americans for Financial Reform, Our Coalition, Accessed June 10, 2019.https://ourfinancialsecurity.org/about/our-coalition/
  6. Ballotpedia, Americans for Financial Reform, Accessed June 10, 2019. https://ballotpedia.org/Americans_for_Financial_Reform
  7. Americans for Financial Reform, About Us, Accessed June 10, 2019. https://ourfinancialsecurity.org/about/
  8. Democracy Alliance, Americans for Financial Reform, Accessed June 10, 2019. https://democracyalliance.org/organization/americans-for-financial-reform/
  9. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Minority Page, “Brown keynote speech at Americans for Financial Reform forum on the financial crisis ten years later,” July 24, 2018. Accessed June 10, 2019. https://www.banking.senate.gov/newsroom/minority/brown-keynote-speech-at-americans-for-financial-reform-forum-on-the-financial-crisis-ten-years-later
  10. Neil Haggerty, “Dodd-Frank is a success story: Progressives, former regulators,” July 24, 2018. Accessed June 10, 2019. https://www.americanbanker.com/news/dodd-frank-is-a-success-story-progressives-former-regulators
  11. Americans for Financial Reform, “AFR Report: Finance for a fair economy – managing the financial cycle,” March 28, 2019. Accessed June 10, 2019. https://ourfinancialsecurity.org/2019/03/afr-report-finance-fair-economy-managing-financial-cycle/
  12. Carter Dougherty, “News release: AFT voting record highlights Wall Street influence in 115th Congress,” February 21, 2019. Accessed June 10, 2019. https://ourfinancialsecurity.org/2019/02/news-release-afr-voting-record-highlights-wall-street-influence-115th-congress/
  13. Marcy Gordon, “SEC to require brokers only to reveal financial conflicts,” June 5, 2019. Accessed June 10, 2019.https://finance.yahoo.com/news/sec-moving-require-brokers-reveal-070048233.html
  14. Mayra Valladares, “The weakening of big bank regulations under Trump is the seed for the next financial crisis,” May 22, 2019. Accessed June 10, 2019. https://www.forbes.com/sites/mayrarodriguezvalladares/2019/05/22/the-weakening-of-big-bank-regulations-under-trump-is-the-seed-for-the-next-financial-crisis/#14de21aa4f4c
  15. Kerr, Andrew. “Revealed: Antifa Leader Relied On Anonymity To Push Radical, Violent Communist Agenda.” The Daily Caller. December 21, 2018. Accessed June 14, 2019. https://dailycaller.com/2018/12/18/antifa-leader-violent-communist
  16. Kerr, Andrew. “Progressive Nonprofit Refuses To Say If It Fired DC Antifa Leader Joseph Alcoff.” The Daily Caller. February 05, 2019. Accessed June 14, 2019. https://dailycaller.com/2019/02/04/antifa-marines-employer-fired
  17. Scher, Brent. “CFPB Worked With Exposed Antifa Leader on Payday Loan Rule.” Washington Free Beacon. February 05, 2019. Accessed June 14, 2019. https://freebeacon.com/issues/cfpb-worked-with-exposed-antifa-leader-on-payday-loan-rule
  18. Fiorillo, Victor. “”Angriest Black Man In America” Takes Case of Man Accused of Attacking Marines.” Philadelphia Magazine. January 31, 2019. Accessed June 14, 2019. https://www.phillymag.com/news/2019/01/31/antifa-joseph-alcoff-marine-attack-michael-coard
  19. COURT OF COMMON PLEAS OF PHILADELPHIA COUNTY. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Joseph W. Alcoff. https://ujsportal.pacourts.us/DocketSheets/CPReport.ashx?docketNumber=CP-51-CR-0000678-2019&dnh=NPQY4Z5R4sJTQTmFgVkuRg%3d%3d
  20. Lucas, Fred. “Antifa Activist Facing Assault Charges Was Tied to Democratic Policymakers.” Fox News. February 11, 2019. Accessed June 14, 2019. https://www.foxnews.com/politics/antifa-activist-facing-assault-charges-was-tied-to-democratic-policymakers.
  21. Democracy Alliance, Americans for Financial Reform, Accessed June 10, 2019. https://democracyalliance.org/organization/americans-for-financial-reform/
  22. Americans for Financial Reform Education Fund, Accessed June 10, 2019.http://realbankreform.org/
  23. Netroots Nation, Lisa Donner Speaker Profile, Accessed June 10, 2019. https://www.netrootsnation.org/profile/lisa-donner/
  24. Americans for Financial Reform, Staff, Accessed June 10, 2019.https://ourfinancialsecurity.org/about/our-structure/
  25. Charity Navigator, Leadership Conference Education Fund, Accessed June 10, 2019.https://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.programs&orgid=9421
  26. Pro Publica, Americans for Financial Reform 2017 990, Accessed June 10, 2019.https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/organizations/237026895/201802549349300125/IRS990
  27. Pro Publica, Americans for Financial Reform 2016 990, Accessed June 10, 2019. https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/organizations/237026895/201711529349300006/IRS990[/note [note]Pro Publica, Americans for Financial Reform 2015 990, Accessed June 10, 2019. https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/display_990/237026895/2016_09_EO%2F23-7026895_990_201512
  28. The Bauman Foundation, Leadership Conference Education Fund, Accessed June 10, 2019. https://www.baumanfoundation.org/grantee/222
  29. Big Database, The Arca Foundation, Accessed June 10, 2019. http://www.bigdatabase.com/Big-DB/USFoundation-profiles/THE%20ARCA%20FOUNDATION-132751798.HTML

Directors, Employees & Supporters

  1. Chas Jewett
    Former West River Organizer
  2. Heather Booth
    Founding Director
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