Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Corporate gatekeepers and big tech monopolists are making it more difficult than ever for independent media to survive. Please chip in today.

With the spotlight on Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf, a new campaign is asking the public, "What questions should [committee member] Sen. Elizabeth Warren ask Stumpf?" (Photo: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg)

With the spotlight on Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf, a new campaign is asking the public, "What questions should [committee member] Sen. Elizabeth Warren ask Stumpf?" (Photo: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg)

With CEO in Hot Seat, Wells Fargo Fallout Just Beginning

"Shouldn't WellsFargo CEO return $10 million in performance pay when said performance yields a $185 million fine?"

Lauren McCauley

Fallout from the recent Wells Fargo fraud scandal has really just begun.

One day before its chief executive officer is expected to testify before the Senate Banking Committee, the banking giant "raised eyebrows," as CNN Money put it, when it admitted Monday that its top risk officer, who was charged with safeguarding its retail bank from illegal activities, had taken six-month leave of absence last June, amid the government investigation.

Now, with the spotlight on CEO John Stumpf, a new campaign is asking the public, "What questions should [committee member] Sen. Elizabeth Warren ask Stumpf?"

Given the scope of the scam—employees opened millions of unauthorized accounts—and disparity of punishment—5,300 low level employees were fired while the executives who oversaw the fraud were awarded massive bonuses—respondents had rich fodder for the lawmakers, which they shared with the hashtag #StumpStumpf.

Indeed, a number of former employees have come forward to explain that the unethical behavior was the consequence of unrealistic sales goals and other pressures from higher up. "They warned us about this type of behavior and said, 'You must report it,' but the reality was that people had to meet their goals," Khalid Taha, a former Wells Fargo personal banker, told the New York Times. "They needed a paycheck."

Meanwhile, customers have only begun to demand accountability. On Friday, a class action lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Utah accusing Wells Fargo "of invasion of privacy, fraud, negligence, and breach of contract," according to a separate report by CNN Money. "The three plaintiffs are asking for compensation to cover damages related to identity theft, anxiety and emotional distress, and legal fees."

Also last week, activist investor Bartlett Naylor, a financial policy analyst for consumer advocacy group Public Citizen, filed a shareholder resolution calling on Wells Fargo's directors to study "whether the divestiture of all non-core banking business segments would enhance shareholder value"—in other words, whether the banking giant should be broken up.

"Rather than acknowledging a management breakdown," the resolution reads, "CEO John Stumpf blamed a minority of bad employees. He claimed there was no reason for the employees to commit the fraud. 'There was no incentive to do bad things,' Stumpf told the Wall Street Journal. Taking CEO Stumpf at his word, then, we believe he effectively argues that his firm is so large as to be unmanageable."

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

After Kids Killed in Texas, Dems Declare 'Pass Gun Safety Legislation Now'

"Congress has a moral responsibility to end gun violence now," said Sen. Ed Markey. "To those who refuse to act, there are no excuses. Only complicity and shame."

Jessica Corbett ·

At Least 19 Children, 2 Adults Killed in Texas Elementary School Shooting

"This has become part of who we are as a country," said Julián Castro. "The free availability of guns has not made us safer in the United States or here in the state of Texas."

Brett Wilkins ·

House Dems to Pelosi: Hold Vote for Bill Expanding Social Security

"It is Congress' responsibility to ensure that Social Security's benefits are protected and improved," says a letter to the speaker. "It's time we deliver."

Jessica Corbett ·

Two Years After George Floyd Murder, Biden to Issue Executive Order on Police Reform

"The entire culture and mentality needs to change to bring these words to life, and to save lives," said one civil liberties advocate.

Julia Conley ·

'Wholesale Fraud' in Michigan Governor Race Could Disqualify GOP Candidates

"It looks like the Republican clown car may be losing a few occupants."

Jessica Corbett ·

Common Dreams Logo