RIAs react to the 'lawless rioting and acts of domestic terrorism' at the U.S. Capitol at President Trump's urging: It's deeply wrong
Every Twitter voice from Alex Chalekian to Aaron Klein condemn taking of the building for first time since 1814
Brooke's Note: Today was not a productive one at RIABiz. We watched with a funereal mood along with the rest of the nation as an angry mob stormed the U.S. Capitol at the urging of our outgoing president. I can only assume I wasn't the only one semi-paralyzed by events in Washington, D.C. My email box was moribund as if it were a holiday. I turned to media of all kind, including social media, to affirm that my deflated feelings were shared by others. I have to say, I'm mostly heartened by what I see and hear from RIAs, and I'm sharing some of what I see here. I believe RIAs are especially well-positioned to comment. They are members of group who are regulated by government, yet with a presumption they can be trusted to live by the spirit of putting clients first. It's worth taking a step back to ponder how profound a creation of Democracy and free enterprise the profession is. See: What exactly is an RIA? Meanwhile, I'm grappling with how a terroristic mob showed up to stop democracy, and somebody welcomed them in.
Democracy demands a sense of humor. Former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill once called it the worst form of government... except all else.
But the jokes, wry comments and even mentions of Hillary's emails took a day off as RIAs responded to a dark day's events with black-and-white reactions on what they observed.
Putting aside politics as a third rail, conservatives and liberals projected a 911-style unified voice. They were appalled by what looked like a full-blown, if ineffective, terrorist attack on the U.S. Capitol to prevent certification of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President elect Kamala Harris.
"It's extraordinarily clear to me — lawless rioting and acts of domestic terrorism," tweets Aaron Klein, CEO and founder of Riskalyze in response to an RIABiz tweet.
Other RIA business leaders found other clear-cut ways of commenting on the gravity of a mob literally taking control of the U.S. seat of government and driving our elected representatives into hiding for fear of their lives.
Ron Rhoades, the Kentucky-based fiduciary advocate tweeted an unadorned quotation from Abraham Lincoln.
“America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”
Facing a reckoning
Famed RIA and Twitter voice, Alex Chalekian, wrote about his visceral reaction.
"I feel like I'm watching my security cameras while my house is being robbed."
The Los Angeles-based advisor then wrote his reaction as a bewildered immigrant.
"In my 44 years as a US citizen, I've never felt like I lived in a 3rd world country... but here we are. This is all so disheartening."
Carolyn McClanahan, principal of Jacksonville-based Life Planning Partners, took her twitter protest to another level with a pragmatic call to action -- including a video about how to call a local Florida officeholder.
"Dear @RepRutherfordFL - how is law and order going for you now? I'm furious. This is not America. Impeach Trump tonight. You are going to face a reckoning at home for not standing up to this treasonous president.You too @marcorubio @SenRickScott"
Another RIA and immigrant, George Papadopoulos, sought to capture the gravity of the situation by asking white readers for an act of imagination.
"If this was a #BlackLivesMatter demonstration guess how many would be shot dead by now?"
James Osborne, principal of Bason Asset Management and famed RIA blogger, expressed a controlled fury at the president.
"He is a goddamn disgrace."
A previous Osborne tweet posed a question that will no doubt be sorted out over time.
"Why isn't every single one of these people in jail?"
Aaron Schumm, CEO of Vestwell, expressed shock and disgust in a tweet.
"I can't believe what we are witnessing, incited by the President, nonetheless. Disgusting."
Inciting a riot
President Trump began inciting his followers days before the Jan. 6 rally. In a series of Tweets, he exhorted them to gather in Washington.
The “Justice” Department and the FBI have done nothing about the 2020 Presidential Election Voter Fraud, the biggest SCAM in our nation’s history, despite overwhelming evidence. They should be ashamed. History will remember. Never give up. See everyone in D.C. on January 6," he Tweeted on the day after Christmas (Dec. 26)
Thousands of Trump supporters, from the Women for America First group, to StoptheSteal, to the violent Proud Boys, heeded his call.
Trump knew, or should have known, his inflammatory comments were dovetailing with rhetoric calling for violence against the government on social media and online forums popular with extremists.
If there was any doubt about his intentions, Trump, during his rally speech, urged supporters to fight the election results and encouraged them to march to the Capitol.
His remarks were peppered with incendiary language and rife with violent undertones, according to media reports.
In an unprecedent action, Twitter and Facebook banned the President from their platforms for 12 hours after he tweeted sympathetically about the rioters and repeated false claims about the election.
Unsurprisingly, foreign leaders and diplomats around the world issued unusually stark denunciations. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called the protest “disgraceful.”
“The world is watching! We hope for restoration of calm,” wrote Irish Minister of Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney. He called the scene in Washington “shocking” and “a deliberate assault on democracy,” CNBC reported.
Business speaks out
The RIA industry's reaction wasn't the only expression of outrage from the business community. A broad cross-section of financial industry firms--not known for political activism--also spoke out about the events in Washington, both before, during and after the riot.
A day before today’s joint session of Congress, dozens of top U.S. CEOs gathered spontaneously across parties, industries and around the nation to unanimously condemn "those GOP deniers of democracy and threatened to withdraw funding their future campaigns," according to Jeff Sonnenfeld, CEO of the Yale Chief Executive Leadership Institute, writing in Chief Executive magazine.
"As the Congress planned to meet to open envelopes to tally the court-proven, valid ballots of the Electoral College, a large group of GOP legislators threatened to overrule that voice of the nation’s voters." Sonnenfeld added.
The magazine polled three-dozen CEOs, many from some of America’s biggest companies, about events in Washington. Many were outraged over the "threatened betrayal of the Constitution."
Many CEOs believe Trump is attempting a coup and broke federal and/or state election laws. Yet, they remained optimistic that Trump would peacefully leave office and should not be impeached.
CEOs by an overwhelming margin (88%) believe that so called "Sedition Coalition" of Republicans in Congress are violating the Constitution and "aiding and abetting sedition."
Leaders of some of the largest U.S. companies said they were considering withholding donations to Republican lawmakers seeking to impede the presidential transition, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Tom Glocer, lead director of Morgan Stanley and Merck as well as former CEO of Thomson Reuters summed up sentiment.
"[CEOs] are wary of bringing partisan politics into the board room. However this is much more than a political issue," he told the magazine.
"Respect for the rule of law underlies our market economy and supports important elements such as the reserve currency status of the dollar. Business leaders need to stand up on these issues because in the end they are business issues not just politics as usual.”
On Monday, (Jan. 5) nearly 200 top U.S. business leaders urged Congress in a letter to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.
Among those who signed the letter are the heads of financial firm BlackRock Inc., consulting firm Deloitte, airline JetBlue Airways Corp. and pharmaceutical company Pfizer Inc., according to a release.
The group includes a number of Fortune 500 companies across industries, as well as New York-based financial-services firms and law firms.
The letter was sent by the Partnership for New York City, a nonprofit that represents the city’s business leaders and largest employers.
“Attempts to thwart or delay this process run counter to the essential tenets of our democracy,” the letter stated.
“Our duly elected leaders deserve the respect and bipartisan support of all Americans at a moment when we are dealing with the worst health and economic crises in modern history.”