Lehigh Co. controller wants to dump Wells Fargo over abortion | Wednesday Morning Coffee
Good Wednesday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
Officials in a bellwether county in a key 2022 battleground state are moving to dump $145 million in taxpayer assets from Wells Fargo & Co. because of the financial titan’s support for politicians who oppose abortion rights.
Lehigh County Controller Mark Pinsley, a Democrat who’s leading the push, told the Capital-Star that he was moved to act in response to his adult daughter’s outrage at last month’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling toppling Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that provided a constitutional right to abortion.
“I went on vacation with my wife and family, and my daughter, who’s 20, said we couldn’t celebrate the Fourth of July because our freedoms were being taken away,” he recalled.
Pinsley, a former township commissioner who was first elected to his county row office post in 2019, said he began considering his options, and the logical first step was looking at where Lehigh County was keeping its money.
“We had $145 million in Wells Fargo, and they’ve never been my favorite bank anyway,” Pinsley said, referring to the company’s controversial reputation, including a history of fraudulent sales practices.
“When I started looking at Wells Fargo, their [political action committee] does give to Democrats and Republicans” said Pinsley, who’s running for Lehigh County’s 16th Senate District seat. “But they’re also giving to [Texas Gov.] Greg Abbott, who is so anti-abortion.
“These are our taxpayer dollar that we have in the bank — let’s remove the $145 million from from Wells Fargo, and put it into a bank that does not invest in politics,” he told the Capital-Star. “Let’s hold these corporations accountable for who they are investing in.
Records show that Wells Fargo’s PAC previously has made a variety of donations to Republican politicians who oppose abortion rights, including U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
So far this year, the company has nearly evenly split its money between Democrats and Republicans, giving $75,500 to Democrats and $80,000 to Republicans, according to an analysis by the website Open Secrets, which tracks political giving.
Among the local beneficiaries of the financial giant’s largess are U.S. Reps. Dwight Evans, D-1st District, and Madeleine Dean, D-4th District, both prominent progressives. The company also donated to U.S. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, D-Calif., this cycle, the Open Secrets analysis showed.
Lehigh County’s majority-Democrat Board of Commissioners voted 6-3 on July 13 to begin the divestiture process, the panel said in a statement.
“As the only woman on the board, it’s important that in light of Roe being overturned that we begin to look at things in an in-depth way,” Commissioner Zakiya Smalls, who supported the plan, said in the board’s statement. “We have an opportunity to choose whether we want to continue a relationship with a bank that takes partisan stances or a regional bank that is invested in our community.”
In a statement it released to Bloomberg, a Wells Fargo spokesperson said the company found the county’s decision “disappointing,” and said it “[stands] ready to engage with commissioners to discuss our service to the county and the value Wells Fargo has provided for its residents.”
Pinsley’s effort has begun attracting national attention. And Democratic U.S. Senate candidate John Fetterman recently shared it with his large audience of Twitter followers.
“Try this one weird trick to hold big corporations accountable for bankrolling anti-abortion politicians,” Fetterman wrote. “Way to go Lehigh County.” As of Tuesday afternoon, it had been retweeted more than 900 times and liked by 5,172 users.
The effort also has attracted the support of such advocacy groups as Planned Parenthood, Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania, and NARAL, which has “started going around to talk to other counties about it,” Pinsley said. “The hope is to educate everyone, there are things we can do.”
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Originally published at www.penncapital-star.com,by John L. Micek