Activists will deliver petitions to Department of Justice offices around the country on Tuesday, calling on President Barack Obama to crack down on big banks. The move comes after nearly a month of vocal backlash against Attorney General Eric Holder's admission that some financial institutions are simply too big to prosecute.
The petitions, organized by a variety of liberal advocacy groups such as MoveOn and CREDO Action, have drawn more than 300,000 signatures, organizers claim. A petition on MoveOn's digital platform calling for Obama to "take immediate steps to break up the big banks and prosecute the criminals who used them to destroy our economy" has gathered more than 140,000 signatures. CREDO’s petition demanding that Holder resign if he won’t prosecute criminal bankers has drawn more than 150,000 signatures.
The campaign was sparked by Holder's confession during testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee in March that the Justice Department had declined to press criminal charges against big banks due to concerns that doing so could damage the stability of the global economy.
"I am concerned that the size of some of these institutions becomes so large that it does become difficult for us to prosecute them when we are hit with indications that if you do prosecute, if you do bring a criminal charge, it will have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy," Holder said. "And I think that is a function of the fact that some of these institutions have become too large."
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) later summarized the concerns expressed by many in the wake of Holder's comments.
“It has been almost five years since the financial crisis, but the big banks are still too big to fail," she said in a statement. "That means they are subsidized by about $83 billion a year by American taxpayers and are still not being held fully accountable for breaking the law. Attorney General Holder’s testimony that the biggest banks are too-big-to-jail shows once again that it is past time to end too-big-to-fail."
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) submitted legislation last week seeking to address "too big to jail" institutions by eliminating the "too big to fail" practice that has propped them up.