by Sheri Urban
Socialist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) tried to grill Wells Fargo CEO Timothy Sloan during a House Financial Services Committee Hearing on Tuesday and ended up getting embarrassed.
The hearing, held by Democrat Chairwoman Maxine Waters, was titled, “Holding Megabanks Accountable: An Examination of Wells Fargo’s Pattern of Consumer Abuses.”
The Los Angeles Times reported: “Sloan was the first megabank chief executive whom Waters, an outspoken critic of Wells Fargo, summoned to appear before the House Financial Services Committee since she took over as its chairwoman in January following the midterm elections that gave Democrats control of the House.”
Ocasio-Cortez used her time during the hearing to push her political agenda against Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and against the fossil fuel industry.
“Why was the bank involved in the caging of children and financing the caging of children to begin with?” Ocasio-Cortez asked.
“I don’t know how to answer that question because we weren’t,” Sloan responded.
“Uh, so in finan–, you’ve, you were financing, involved in debt financing in CoreCivic and GEO group, correct?” Ocasio-Cortez responded.
“For a period of time, we were involved in financing one of the firms, we are not anymore,” Sloan responded. “I’m not familiar with the specific assertion you are making, we were not involved in that.”
It only got worse from there.
“Should Wells Fargo be held responsible for the damages incurred by Climate Change due to the financing of fossil fuels and these projects?” Ocasio-Cortez asked.
“I don’t know how’d you calculate that, Congresswoman,” Sloan responded.
“Say from spills, or when we have to reinvest in infrastructure building sea walls from the erosion of, um, from the erosion of infrastructure or cleanups, wildfires, etc…,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
“Related to that pipeline?” Sloan replied. “I’m not aware that there’s been any of what you’ve described that’s occurred that’s related to that pipeline.”
Growing frustrated, Ocasio-Cortez talked over Sloan as he finished answering her question, asking, “How about, uh, the cleans up from the leaks of the Dakota Access pipeline?”
“I’m not aware of the leaks associated with the Dakota Access pipeline that you’re describing,” Sloan responded.
“So, hypothetically, if there was a leak from the Dakota Access pipeline, why shouldn’t Wells Fargo pay for the clean up of it since it paid for the construction of the pipeline itself?”
“Because we don’t operate the pipeline, we provide financing to the company that’s operating the pipeline,” Sloan answered.
“Regulators hit Wells Fargo with a $1-billion fine last year for forcing auto-loan customers into unneeded insurance policies and charging improper fees to some mortgage borrowers,” The Times reports. “And in a securities filing this month, Wells Fargo said it could be required to pay as much as $2.7 billion more than it had set aside as of the end of December to resolve legal cases, including ongoing probes by the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission.”
Sloan, who has been at Wells Fargo for 31 years, became the bank’s CEO in October 2016 after John Stumpf was forced out after a pair of disastrous congressional hearings.