A militia group, claiming that Texas is an independent nation, is demanding that all the state's financial institutions switch within 30 days to a charter it has created.
Hundreds of banks, thrifts, and credit unions in the state received faxes Tuesday from a group calling itself the Republic of Texas. "We will assume if you do not respond within 30 days from this notice that you will be preparing to terminate your operations, and your banking file with the Treasury will be posted to be closed," wrote Darrell Dean Franks, the group's treasurer.
Under the new charters the institutions would not be allowed to make leveraged loans.
"Today, banks literally create money out of thin air," Mr. Franks said in an interview on Tuesday. "They won't be able to lend money they don't have."
U.S. currency also would be banned - "that's unlawful money" - and replaced with silver and gold currency, he explained.
Won't financial institutions object to these changes?
"Some changes aren't going to sit too well in bankers' tummies, but it won't be a hassle - it'll probably be the most beautiful thing that ever happened," he said.
The Texas attorney general has ruled that any actions of the Republic of Texas have no legal standing. Mr. Franks said that view is irrelevant because his group doesn't recognize the current government of Texas.
Lynda Floyd, cashier at $60 million-asset Bonham State Bank, said she barely batted an eye when she received Mr. Franks' fax.
"I didn't pay any attention to it," she said. "There are crazies out there everywhere."
John Heasley, general counsel of the Texas Bankers Association, said he did not expect bankers who received the notice to take it too seriously.
Mr. Franks "is a couple of enchiladas short of a combination plate, but your average Texan is bright enough to know this is fake," Mr. Heasley said.