Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Blames Wells Fargo CEO for ‘Caging Children’

By Colin Fredericson

New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tried to place blame on the CEO of Wells Fargo for “financing the caging of children,” at a House Financial Services Committee hearing on March 12.

“Mr. Sloan, why was the bank involved in the caging of children, and financing the caging of children, to begin with?” Ocasio-Cortez asked CEO Tim Sloan.

Ocasio-Cortez was trying to connect Wells Fargo with criticism of how children who enter the United States illegally were reportedly handled under the law.

“I don’t know how to answer that question, because we weren’t,” Sloan responded.

Sloan explained that Wells Fargo had pulled out of deals related to financing detention facilities and that the company will pull out of a remaining deal once it is able to.

Ocasio-Cortez then tried to make a tenuous connection between Wells Fargo and the financing of ICE detention facilities. She suggested that their financing made Wells Fargo liable for any problems that children may face while in detention. She failed to mention how the actions of the children’s families would have contributed to putting the children in a position where they are breaking well-known, internationally held laws regarding illegal entry into a country—laws that members of Congress have more control over than a bank CEO.

Ocasio-Cortez then went on to blame the company for issues related to leaks from North Dakota’s oil pipelines, one of which has yet to be constructed.

“Hypothetically, if there was a leak from the Dakota Access Pipeline why shouldn’t Wells Fargo pay for the cleanup of it, since it paid for the construction of the pipeline itself?”

In his response, Sloan reminded Ocasio-Cortez that he doesn’t run a pipeline construction company.

“Because we don’t operate the pipeline. We provide financing to the company that’s operating the pipeline,” he said.

Ocasio-Cortez also attempted to make Wells Fargo responsible for vague issues that have even less to do with its business dealings.

“So let’s focus on the Dakota Access Pipeline. Should Wells Fargo be held responsible to the damages incurred by climate change due to the financing of fossil fuels and these projects?”

Sloan responds incredulously.

“I don’t know how you’d calculate that, Congresswoman.”

Ocasio-Cortez proceeded to explain her thinking. “Say from spills, or when we have to reinvest in infrastructure building sea walls from… the…. erosion of… the erosion of infrastructure or cleanups, wildfires, etc.?”

Sloan replied: “Related to that pipeline? I’m not aware that there’s been any of what you described that’s occurred related to that pipeline.”

Sloan was attending the hearing due to scandals that have rocked Wells Fargo in recent years related to the creation of fake customer accounts, mortgage foreclosures, auto insurance sales, and the bank’s wealth management business. The bank has had to pay billions of dollars in fines.

The hearing took four hours, where members of Congress on multiple sides of the political spectrum took turns to question Sloan to see if Wells Fargo had changed its practices.