Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Wells Fargo-- The Anti-Medical Marijuana Bank-- Strikes Again


There was some excellent news out of Florida, where the primaries are next Tuesday. The progressive in the race, Tallahassee mayor Andrew Gillum, is surging into first place. A new poll shows him with 33% while his two closest rivals, conservatives Gwen Graham and Philip Levine are each down to 22% and the other progressive in the race, Jeff Greene, is languishing at 10%. Gillum's message is finally resonating and Democratic voters are realizing he isn't just another garden variety lesser-of-two evils Democrat. He's touring the entire state and just did raucous overflow rallies with Bernie Sanders in Tampa (above) and Orlando, giving Florida voters a chance to see what dynamic, bold progressive leadership looks like.

But not all the new was. Right at the time Elizabeth Warren was delivering her sweeping anti-corruption proposal, I learned about another Wells Fargo outrage. Wells Fargo has long been one of the most corrupt banks in America, making a business of ripping off their customers. No one should be banking with them but Nikki Fried, Democratic candidate for agriculture commissioner was. Was. No more. Wells Fargo told her to take her business elsewhere because of her advocacy and interaction with the medical marijuana industry. Medical marijuana is legal in Florida, despite GOP efforts to defy the will of Florida voters.
“They told me my account was being flagged because of my political platform,” Fried said during a news conference at the Capitol. She lists greater access to medical marijuana as one of the main issues of her campaign.

Many large banks have refused to do business with the burgeoning industry of legal marijuana. While some states have legalized it for medical or recreational purposes, it remains illegal under federal law to grow, sell or possess marijuana.

“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,” Wells Fargo spokesman Michael Gray wrote in an emailed statement in which he did not answer a series of questions sent to the bank about the matter. “We continually review our banking relationships to ensure we adhere to strict regulatory and risk guidelines.”

Fried says Wells Fargo took it a step too far when it asked her end the banking relationship.

“I’m a candidate. I have a right to be heard,” Fried said. “I am not touching the plant, I am not selling the plant, I’m not producing the plant. I’m simply advocating for the expansion of medical marijuana.”

Fried provided emails, starting on July 11, from Wells Fargo employees asking if she would be receiving donations from the medical marijuana industry.

“Can you confirm the types of transactions expected for this customer and if any of the transactions will include funds received from lobbyists from the medical marijuana industry in any capacity?” Antoinette Infante, Wells Fargo senior relationship manager, wrote to Fried campaign treasurer Gloria Maggiolo.

After Fried campaign officials confirmed they would receive funds from the industry, and that Fried herself was a former lobbyist for the industry, the bank called on Aug. 3 to say the account would need to be closed. An Aug. 14 letter followed, giving the campaign 30 days to end the account.

The Fried campaign switched its funds to BB&T Bank. A political committee supporting Fried, Florida Consumers First, also switched its funds to BB&T.

As of Aug. 10, Fried’s campaign has received at least $7,500 from medical marijuana industry executives and employees, including $3,000 from Jake Bergmann, CEO of Surterra Wellness, one of the companies licensed by the state to sell marijuana for medical uses. Florida Consumers First has received $50,000, including $35,000 from Bergmann.

Fried said she hasn’t heard of any other candidate in the country having their bank suspend their account over medical marijuana industry donations. Since the race for Florida agriculture commissioner isn’t a high-profile race nationally, she suspects someone alerted the bank to the issue, but wouldn’t speculate who it was.

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At 6:54 PM, Blogger Procopius said...

It sounds like she tried to get them to continue her account. I can't for the life of me imagine why she would want to do that. I don't vote in Florida, so it really isn't any of my business, but she really should have been banking with a credit union anyway. If there is any reason why a Too Big to Jail bank is necessary for her political transactions I would love to hear what it is.

At 7:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is the albatros which will be hung about the neck of Kamala Harris for letting these bastards off the hook for mortgage fraud.

At 5:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pro is absolutely correct. Why, after they were found to have bilked millions of customers by creating millions of fake accounts in their names, would ANY sane person still do bid'ness with them?

Yeah, nobody went to prison for fraud. But nobody in banking can ever go to prison for any degree of fraud. $20 trillion doesn't get anyone sent to prison. A couple billion certainly won't. But if I were struggling to keep my checking account in the black every month, I would have fled that corporate shithole immediately.

Just more anecdotal proof that americans truly are the dumbest motherfuckers in the history of humankind. I would never vote for her just because she is so fucking stupid.


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