Ben defended the NAACP’s partnership with Wells Fargo on the grounds the agreement “improves their practices and increases their transparency in ways that go far beyond what we could win in court.”
But there’s nothing groundbreaking about an agreement that commits Wells Fargo to doing what it says it is already doing.
Don’t take my word for it. Click here for “Wells Fargo & Co. Responsible Lending Principles for Consumer Credit.” The page was last updated Oct. 1, 2009.
Also, Wells Fargo has had an African American Business Services program since 1998.
As previously noted, I know Ben. I should also note that Ben has called me, but I have not returned his call. The reason: I don’t want to hear that I should trust him and not my lying eyes.
Instead, Ben should just answer the questions:
How do the “fair mortgage lending principles” differ from Wells Fargo’s Responsible Lending Principles for Consumer Credit? Was a formal partnership agreement signed? If so, how will it be enforced? Does the NAACP have the resources to examine the lending practices of the fourth-largest U.S. bank with more than 27,000 employees? How will the NAACP be able to succeed when the Treasury Department, after a $25 billion $36.9 billion bailout, has not been able to get Wells Fargo to change its behavior towards struggling homeowners or increase access to capital for small businesses?
The Service Employees International Union’s profile of Wells Fargo states:
- Wells Fargo put taxpayers on the hook for up to $36.9 billion in bailout funds and programs plus an unknown amount from the Federal Reserve's $8 trillion in emergency programs. This money was supposed to help the banks get the economy going again. But little of this money has gone to relieve struggling homeowners and increase the flow of credit to small businesses.
- Despite its large portfolio of at risk mortgages, Wells Fargo has started trial mortgage modifications for only 11% of its 292,515 borrowers who are eligible for the Obama Administration’s Making Home Affordable Program (and are at least 60 days past due). At Wachovia, which Wells Fargo acquired in 2008, the number is even lower, 2% of 74,231 eligible borrowers.
SEIU should demand that the NAACP answer the questions. After all, SEIU is mobilizing support for the “Showdown on K Street.”
SEIU and allies will call out lobbyists for Big Bank -- Bank of America, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo -- who are using campaign contributions to weaken financial regulatory reform.The New York Times reports the NAACP and SEIU are organizing a rally in October to “create momentum for President Obama and Congress to enact more progressive-minded legislation on jobs, a financial overhaul and other matters.”
In his blog post, Ben wrote the NAACP paid a price for filing the lawsuit against Wells Fargo:
It was not without a price. Just before I did so, I informed our board that we would need to revise down our corporate revenue projections because we would be bringing lawsuits against corporate supporters . . . .
Wells Fargo stopped supporting our national events shortly after we announced the suit.
Ben asserted the agreement “does not interfere with but complements lawsuits brought by cities which are largely for remunerative damages.”
We now know dropping the lawsuit has been remunerative for the NAACP. But the civil rights organization has not disclosed how much remuneration it has received from Wells Fargo.
In addition to sponsoring the annual convention, Wells Fargo is a co-sponsor of the upcoming Leadership 500 Summit.
There is no such thing as free money. The question remains: What is Wells Fargo getting in exchange for its corporate support?