Here's what we've learned about Wells Fargo in the past few years:
The megabank that always presented itself as America's sweetheart was, in reality, a corporate cesspool of overaggressive sales practices and widespread fraud perpetrated against customers on a scale that still strains credulity. The bank has had to pay an extreme amount of fines, overhaul its executive suite, testify multiple times before a furious Congress, and shift its marketing strategy to one of total subservient humility.
In short, Wells Fargo has utterly lost any claim it might have ever had to the moral high ground.
But apparently, the habit of moralist posturing is difficult to quit. According to a report in The NY Times, a woman named Nikki Fried is running for Agriculture Commissioner in Florida on a platform that heavily features her promise to legalize cannabis in the state. Fried is not a marijuana dealer, but Wells Fargo is the banker for her campaign, and they had concerns...
The bank, which says it has a policy against serving marijuana-related businesses, had noticed that Ms. Fried was “advocating for expanded patient access to medical marijuana.” It asked the campaign in July whether it would be receiving money from “lobbyists from the medical marijuana industry in any capacity.”
The campaign replied that, yes, Ms. Fried would be receiving donations from lobbyists as well as “executives, employees and corporations in the medical marijuana industry.”
Last week, the campaign said it had received written notice that Wells Fargo was closing its account.
Some of you squares are probably thinking that we're being unfair to Wells here and that any major bank would react this way in case their regulators got anxious about cannabis money somehow flowing in and out of their coffers because the state-by-state legalization situation is confusing [especially with mid-century relic Jeff Sessions running the Justice Departement]...but shut up, you sound like an idiot.
But in closing a campaign account, Wells stands alone. Representatives for Bank of America, Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase said their banks did not have policies that would prevent them from offering services to a candidate like Ms. Fried.
Neither, it seems, does BB&T, which now maintains Ms. Fried’s campaign account.
That's our Wells Fargo, always on the cutting edge of financial moralism.
Wells Fargo refusing to bank a political campaign for a marijuana advocate is like Harvey Weinstein refusing to cast Shia LaBeouf in a movie because he's a pain in the ass. Tim Sloan being imperious about pot is like a man overseeing a morally decaying financial institution being imperious about pot.
But if you really want to taste the irony here, just go to the source...
“It is Wells Fargo’s policy not to knowingly bank or provide services to marijuana businesses or for activities related to those businesses, based on federal laws under which the sale and use of marijuana is illegal even if state laws differ,” the spokeswoman, Bridget Braxton, said in a statement. “We continually review our banking relationships to ensure we adhere to strict regulatory and risk guidelines.”
We'll stop here since we're laughing so hard.