Councilmember Juarez’s Statement on Monday’s Wells Fargo Legislation

Councilmember Debora Juarez (District 5, North Seattle) issued the following statement today about this Monday’s forthcoming 2 p.m. vote to lapse the City’s depository services contract with Wells Fargo:

“Earlier this week my colleagues and I voted unanimously in favor of effectively removing more than $3B of the City’s funds from Wells Fargo Bank. We took this action against Wells Fargo largely because of its role as a financier of the Dakota Access Pipeline, but we also cast our votes because of their practices which hurt our constituents.

“In his letter from last October, Mayor Murray – along with Council President Harrell and Councilmember Burgess – squarely identified the bank’s most deplorable practices, citing behavior that was at best unethical and at worst illegal.  ‘The people of Seattle expect far better from the City’s business partners…’ wrote the Mayor.  Wells Fargo has betrayed the trust of the people who banked with them, and, through being the City’s banking institution, betrayed the trust of Seattle taxpayers.

“From the beginning Wells Fargo employees have willfully and deceptively left many of their customers with poor credit scores and miniscule bank accounts — some of the very same people we were elected to represent.

“I cast my vote in the name of integrity. Together, our votes served to put Wells Fargo on notice.  Despite having been embroiled in lawsuits with the State of California, Maryland’s Consumer Financial Protection Division, and working under a consent order issued by the Department of the Treasury, Wells Fargo is both unwilling and unable to explain themselves or to establish a written policy outlining their practices.

“The City must trust the practices and integrity of the institutions that handle our public funds.

“With that in mind, we – the City – cancelled a $100M bond with Wells Fargo on October 6, 2016.  For a company whose deposits totaled more than $1 trillion last year, it’s a drop in a very big bucket.  But for Seattle, a City whose budget is approx. $4B., voting to withdraw our funds this Monday – money that covers the biweekly payroll of $30 million for about 12,000 employees – is an opportunity to send a message.

“With this forthcoming vote we can put our trust in a new institution with whom we do business and hope that other cities will follow suit and show Wells Fargo, and other socially irresponsible banks, the door.

“I’ll again be voting yes on this legislation on Monday, and I’ll urge my colleagues to do the same.”