14:36, April 02 71 0

2018-04-02 14:36:12

 

Is Wells Fargo using LGBT groups to launder its pro-gun, scandal-ridden image?

Wells Fargo has long been a supporter of LGBT issues, and pride activities in particular. Last year, the banking giant produced a series of videos celebrating LGBT nonprofits and has lit its North Carolina headquarters in the colors of transgender pride.

As a company, it was one of the leaders in adopting non-discrimination employment policies and has been an active participant in Pride marches for more than 25 years. No wonder religious right leader Franklin Graham boycotts the bank.

When it comes to the growing movement to establish better gun controls, Wells Fargo stands out too. In the wrong way.

The firm has become the go-to bank for gun manufacturers and the NRA. According to an analysis by Bloomberg News, Wells Fargo has helped provide more funding for gun manufacturers than any other bank in the country. Since the Sandy Hook massacre in 2012, Wells Fargo has arranged $431 million in loans to gun makers.

Some of the bank’s ties are the result of mergers. The NRA account, which includes a $28 million line of credit, was inherited by Wells Fargo when it bought Wachovia. Still, the bank earns a nice profit on its business with the NRA, since the credit line carries an interest rate of 6.08%.

Wells Fargo is hardly alone in its ties to the gun industry. Morgan Stanley, TD Securities, and Bank of America Merrill Lynch follow Wells Fargo on the list, with business totally $270 milllion up to $350 million.

For its part, Wells Fargo says that the best way to address the “complicated” issue of gun control is “through the political and legislative process.” In a statement the company added, “We plan to engage our customers that legally manufacture firearms and other stakeholders on what we can do together to promote better gun safety for our communities.”

Support for local events, like LGBT Pride, is de rigeur corporate policy to give back to the community and establish some good will. But Wells Fargo needs to establish good will a lot more than other companies.

The bank is still dealing with the fallout from creating as many as 3.5 million bogus accounts to bilk customers with fees that they were unaware of. The bank didn’t help its case by initially appearing tone deaf to the magnitude of the fraud.

Now that it’s ties to the gun industry are garnering attention, Pride may become even more fraught for Wells Fargo. Last year, No Pride No Justice briefly blocked the Washington, D.C., Pride parade because of Wells Fargo’s participation, among other corporate sponsors. The group singled the bank out because of its support for the Dakota Access pipeline.

For most LGBT people, the Dakota Access pipeline was a narrow issue that didn’t effect them. But gun control is something entirely different, as the Pulse nightclub shooting highlights.

It’s hard to square Wells Fargo’s progressive stand on and support for LGBT issues with its ties to gun makers. Whether once-a-year events can overcome its tarnished year-round image is an open question.

The other question is how much the community will let it do so.

 

 


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