Senior employees of Summit Bank are donating to the re-election campaign of Neal Dunn (R-Fla.), who is simultaneously a member of the U.S. House of Representatives and Chairman of Summit’s Board of Directors.
As a lawmaker who votes on bills that impact banking industry regulation, there are potential conflicts of interest in holding both positions. In the upper chamber, ethics rules ban U.S. senators from being members of corporate boards, but that restriction was never adopted by the House.
Summit employees donating to Dunn’s re-election effort include President and CEO Andrew Stein ($2,500, close to the $2,700 maximum), Summit Wealth Management Group President Greg Scott ($600), Executive Vice President Frank Hall ($500), Senior Vice President Jeff Dibenidictis ($250), and others. In total, Summit Bank employees have given $4,350 to Dunn’s campaign so far this cycle.
Dunn ran uncontested in the Republican primary in Florida’s 2nd Congressional District, and he is almost certain to be re-elected in the general as his district is rated “Solid Republican” by the Cook Political Report.
Sludge reported in August that Dunn disclosed earning $72,000 in “Director’s Fees/Stock Options” in a disclosure filed with the Clerk of the House. Under House rules, members of Congress can serve on boards of directors, but they “may not be paid any directors’ fees or other compensation for that service.”
Three weeks after the Sludge report, Dunn submitted an amended filing, stating that he earned $9,200 in director’s fees in 2017, adding in a comment: “Amount earned as Director Fee, along with interest earned on fee, has been disgorged to Summit Bank NA. Original disclosure inadvertently included stock options received prior to becoming a Member of Congress.”
Summit Bank is a small commercial bank with about $447,000 in assets, according to information made available by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. Despite its size, Summit Bank could benefit from Dunn’s legislative actions on banking legislation. As Sludge reported in August:
Dunn has a history of pushing legislation that would benefit the banking industry, and likely Summit Bank. In 2013, Dunn lobbied for a bill in the Florida State Senate that would have clarified that Florida-chartered banks, like Summit Bank, could charge fees for clearing checks, a change that bill analysts said would result in additional revenue for Florida banks. The bill did not pass in that session, but similar language was included in a banking bill that passed in 2014.
Since becoming a member of Congress in 2017, Dunn has supported several bills to deregulate banks. In May he voted in favor of S. 2155, a major banking bill focused on reducing regulations for medium-sized banks but that also includes several provisions benefiting small community banks like Summit Bank. For example, the bill exempts small banks from reporting requirements designed to prevent discriminatory lending, loosens regulations for participating in reciprocal deposit networks, allows small banks to take on more debt when acquiring other banks, and more.
Dunn is also a co-sponsor of the Community Lending Enhancement and Regulatory Relief (CLEARR) Act, which primary sponsor Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Mo.) describes as an attempt to “ease the burdens facing local financial institutions by providing them with targeted regulatory relief from an onslaught of federal red-tape.” Dunn also recently voted for a minibus appropriations bill that includes a package of deregulatory provisions supported by the banking industry.
Dunn’s office did not respond to a request for comment.