The giant bank at the center of a blossoming scandal over bank accounts and credit cards that were created for unsuspecting customers gave more than $58,000 this election cycle to members of the Senate committee who Tuesday will question Wells Fargo’s chief executive officer.
A McClatchy analysis of donations made by the Wells Fargo and Company Employee PAC, whose job it is to influence members of Congress, finds that it gave to nine Republicans and four Democrats on the 21-member Senate Banking Committee. It gave $43,000 to Republicans, who hold 11 seats on the panel, and $15,500 to Democrats who hold 10 seats.
More broadly, searchable data on the OpenSecrets.org website shows that Wells Fargo has given, in the 2015-2016 election cycle through this Sept. 12, about $159,500 to Republicans who control the Senate and $69,700 to Democrats, who are in the minority.
The Wells Fargo PAC has given $831,700 to federal candidates in the 2015-2016 election cycle, 34 percent to Democrats and 66 percent percent to Republicans.
Members of the Senate Banking Committee will hear Tuesday from Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf on the company’s handling of employees who created bank accounts and credit-card contracts for customers without their knowledge in order to meet their sales targets and collect bonuses. Thirteen of the 21 members have received current campaign donations from Wells Fargo.
Stumpf is expected to also face questions on the retirement package for Carrie Tolstedt, the vice president who oversaw that operation. Tolstedt announced her retirement earlier this year, and the bank’s proxy statement suggests that as of Feb. 24, she had 2.5 million shares of Wells Fargo stock or options to buy stock that she must exercise within 60 days.
A calculation by the Charlotte Observer estimated that the total shares could be worth $118.4 million, on top of her 2015 compensation of $9.1 million in salary, bonus and stock awards. The Observer said Tolstedt had an accumulated pension benefit of $1.2 million and a supplemental 401(k) plan balance of $1.7 million.
Tolstedt was an active giver to the Political Action Committee. As a senior leader, she was among three Wells Fargo employees who each donated the maximum allowed of $5,000. The PAC has raised almost $1.4 million in this election cycle, including $424,378 from 352 individuals who have donated to it. Also giving $5,000 each were Jonathan G. Weiss, who heads Wells Fargo Securities, and Avid Modjtabai, the senior executive vice president for consumer banking.
In an $185 million settlement announced last week with federal regulators and city and county officials in Los Angeles, Wells Fargo’s community bank group, which fell under Tolstedt’s command, was found to have “failed to adequately oversee sales practices.”
Wells Fargo has said that because of the scandal, 5,300 managers and employees were fired between 2011 and March 2016, but it has not said whether it alerted law enforcement of the fake accounts and has not made public any names or job titles.