By: Duncan Burns – August, 2017
What if someone told you that since 2010, a banking company has been caught for: Foreclosure fraud, student loan abuses, money laundering, whistle-blower retaliation, violation of Americans with Disabilities Act, employment discrimination, wage & hour violations, Service Members Relief Act violations, Family Medical Leave Act violations, anti-trust violations, False Claim Acts violations, “Redlining”, and several other banking violations?
One would think for all those abuses there would be a long line of people either indicted, arrested, or already in prison, right? Wrong. In this case, the bank in question is Wells Fargo (WFC), and the cost of doing business by way of fines is just over $11 billion dollars since 2010, including no jail time for any executive.
Even more recently, and covered in a June 14, 2017 piece by The New York Times, Gretchen Morgenson, Wells is accused of modifying mortgage loans without borrower approval. The result would put borrowers into bankruptcy, while Wells profited from false documented modifications. The pattern of abuses, with just this one bank is systemic and a part of their corporate culture. Why? Because The People tolerate it. How? By continuing to elect those into office who look the other way, or legislate protections for serial offenders like Wells Fargo. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, at both the state and federal level(s), is no different.
Massachusetts State Legislators have taken nearly seventy-thousand dollars in political campaign contributions over the years from Wells Fargo. Boston Mayor Marty Walsh received just under five-thousand dollars, and Governor Charlie Baker received just over ten-thousand dollars from Wells Fargo donors. As for Massachusetts Members of Congress, since 2010, Wells Fargo doesn’t skimp there either. Representative Richard Neal took the lion’s share of donations with just over twenty-four thousand dollars deposited into his campaign coffers, and so-called anti-Wall Street Crusader Senator Elizabeth Warren accepted just under seven-thousand over the years into her campaign bank rolls. Of note, The Third Districts and Merrimack Valley’s own Niki Tsongas took in just under one-thousand dollars.
One of the largest beneficiaries of Wells Fargo fraud and criminal complicity has been none other, and Democratic Party supporter, Berkshire Hathaway’s Warren Buffet. How you ask? Per Berkshires latest Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) 13F filings, Buffet’s second largest holding, just behind Kraft Heinz (KFC) is WFC, 479,704,270 shares worth, or just under $27 billion dollars. Wells Fargo executives have also fared well, including the disgraced CEO and subject to claw backs, John Stumpf. Since 2010, those in the executive suites of Wells Fargo fraud, per SEC Form-4 filings, execs have sold their shares equaling just under two-hundred million dollars. It’s not the over $1.4 billion public insurer executives have cashed in since The Affordable Care Acts passage, but not a bad payday for being ostensibly a crime syndicate and sending Americans into economic ruin, all done with your elected politicians complicity.
Like most financial institutions, and especially the TBTF’s of Wall Street, they do not discriminate; they are an equal opportunist when it comes to campaign and lobbying spending. Party affiliation does not matter. We have seen this right here in Massachusetts, including The Merrimack Valley where over the years Wall Street has laid waste to so many through their crimes and our elected officials complicity which begs the question for Massachusetts Democrats: If Democrats are the so-called Party of the working class, where have you been? Given the criminal behavior of just this one corporate plunderer, it appears Massachusetts pols have unequivocally spoken; money usurps all, even if it comes at the expense of those they supposedly serve. Today’s Democrats are nothing reflective of the past, today they appear to be satisfied with being deceivers and charlatans, preying on our fellow Americans’ ignorance in the name of money from their wealthy donor base(s). This isn’t to say Republicans are any better in this regard, they’re not, but The Republican Party in Massachusetts barely has a footprint here.
Decades have passed since there have been any signs of a true “Democrat” from this state, but if there is one, preferably many, could they please stand up?