By David Nicklaus, October 21, 2021

Horacio Mendez, president of the Woodstock Institute in Chicago, called the data “prima facie evidence” of “egregious redlining.” Woodstock, which does research on economic justice, joined the coalition seeking to block the merger.

Complicating the groups’ case is the fact that First Mid was rated “satisfactory” on its most recent Community Reinvestment Act evaluation. It got a “high satisfactory” mark for lending.

The exam was done by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, which regulates national banks. The Federal Reserve, which must approve the merger, may give credence to its fellow regulator’s opinion, but Mendez doesn’t think it should.

“This is a little bit of egg on the comptroller’s face,” he said. “The Fed has to take this seriously.”

The community groups met Oct. 1 with executives of both banks. “There was a lot of deflection,” Mendez said. “They didn’t have good answers about why the data is as bad as it is.”