Statement from CRC Executive Director Paulina Gonzalez-Brito

We believe that elected leaders should hold Wall Street accountable when big banks harm our communities. There is ample evidence that Wells Fargo’s corporate culture remains steeped in abusive practices that harm low-income families.

That’s why we were disappointed to learn that State Treasurer Fiona Ma had recently removed sanctions put in place by her predecessor that kept the bank from underwriting the state’s bonds and barred California from investing in Wells Fargo’s debt. It’s puzzling that at a time when Wells Fargo continues to face public scrutiny for its long list of troubling business practices, culminating in the abrupt departure of its CEO Tim Sloan last week, the State Treasurer would choose to reward the bank with new business.

California has a rich history of leading the resistance against the Trump administration’s pro-Wall Street agenda. When news of the Wells Fargo fake account scandal initially broke, elected officials in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and the former State Treasurer imposed restrictions on doing business with the bank for harming California consumers.  

Recently, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Chair of the House Financial Services Committee harshly criticized the bank for previously awarding Sloan with a $2 million bonus. Following a contentious day of testimony before the Committee, and calls by other elected officials for Wells Fargo to remove Sloan, his early retirement was announced.  

While it may be true that the fish rots from the head down, simply removing Sloan doesn’t clean up the mess at Wells Fargo; nor does it demonstrate, in the words of Congresswoman Waters, that the bank isn’t “too big to manage.” Two years after the initial scandal broke, there is little evidence that the culture of Wells Fargo has shifted. In a recent New York Times article, employees report that they are still under pressure to meet high pressure sales quotas.

We urge the state to rescind its decision to lift the Wells Fargo sanctions.