Idea: Let’s Move Our Money

Five years after Wall Street greed resulted in the onset of the Great Recession, many Democratic Party organizations are still banking with the likes of JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo, which supported Tim Eyman’s I-1053 in 2010 and gave to Republican candidates (including here in the Pacific Northwest) in 2010 and 2012. Why should we patronize any of these megabanks? They’re not looking out for us. In fact, they and their armies of lobbyists actively work to defeat our party’s candidates.

We have choices when it comes to banking, and we should take advantage of those choices. What follows is an overview of the reputable community banks and credit unions in our area that do not have a pronounced Republican tilt.

As far as credit unions (the alternative to banks) go, Washington State’s six biggest are BECU, HAPO, STCU, Numerica, GESA, and WSECU.

Except for BECU and WSECU, all of these credit unions are based in Central and Eastern Washington. WSECU has a presence in Western Washington, but it also has a narrow field of membership: you have to be a state employee or related to one to join.

BECU is the biggest. It has neighborhood financial centers all over the Eastside and Puget Sound, but only two full-service financial centers (one in Tukwila, one in south Everett). The neighborhood financial centers have Snapshot ATMs and, during business hours, they are staffed with member consultants. However, they do not have merchant tellers or safe deposit boxes. The 43rd District Democrats (Seattle) have switched to BECU from Chase. The 32nd District Democrats (North Sound) also bank with BECU.

Other credit unions with a significant presence in Puget Sound are Qualstar CU and Sound CU. Qualstar and Sound are like BECU – they have relatively wide fields of membership.

Moving on to banks… Here are some of the more prominent regional and community banks in our region that don’t give money to Republicans:

  • Banner Bank: Banner Bank regularly gives to the WashBankPAC and Affordable Housing Council but has not given significant sums directly to Republicans in any recent election cycle. Has safety deposit boxes.
  • Columbia Bank: Is local, its branches offer safe deposit boxes. Like Banner, it has only recently given major contributions to WashBankPAC.
  • Union Bank: Wholly owned subsidiary of The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Ltd. (BTMU). Has a number of branches in the Seattle area, including in Redmond, Kirkland, Woodinville, and Totem Lake. Has only donated small amounts to a couple of industry PACs.
  • KeyBank: Regional bank based in Cleveland. The state Democratic Party banks with KeyBank and they are not politically active. Many branches in the Pacific Northwest. Offers safety deposit boxes.
  • One PacificCoast Bank: Socially and environmentally bank based in Oakland, California, with a presence in Washington, Oregon, and California. Caters specifically to nonprofits and progressive businesses. The 45th District Democrats (Eastside) bank with One PacificCoast.