The Washington Independent
The Washington Independent

Tavis Smiley Says He’s Cutting Ties to Wells Fargo

Prominent author, commentator and PBS talk show host Tavis Smiley has announced that he’s cutting all business ties to Wells Fargo & Co. The move comes in

Daisy-Mae Schmitt
News
Last updated: Jul 31, 2020 | Sep 21, 2009

Prominent author, commentator and PBS talk show host Tavis Smiley has announced that he’s cutting all business ties to Wells Fargo & Co. The move comes in the wake of a TWI story last week about Wells Fargo “Wealth Building” seminars held in black neighborhoods starting in 2005, headlined by Smiley, which a recent lawsuit filed by the Illinois attorney general charged were nothing more than sales pitches for high-rate subprime loans.

Richard Prince reported Friday in his “Journal-isms” column that Smiley said he would sever all ties with Wells Fargo until charges that the company steered minorities into higher-rate loans are resolved.

Wells Fargo sponsored Smiley’s radio show on Public Radio International, and underwrote the annual C-Span-televised “State of the Black Union” conference that Smiley organizes. Smiley’s foundation also distributed Wells Fargo materials to young people at foundation events, he told Journal-isms.

“I cut everything off with Wells Fargo,” Smiley declared. He said the move cost “a lot of money”; he said he did not know how much.

Prince also noted that Smiley’s comments came as the TWI article circulated, which reported that Smiley was hired by Wells to be a keynote speaker at the seminars, which were advertised in the black media and launched in eight cities, including Baltimore, Chicago, and Los Angeles.

“I was never a spokesman for Wells Fargo,” Smiley said. “I hate payday loans. My role in these seminars was about financial literacy and wealth building.”

Smiley commented on his business partnership with Wells:

Smiley said his relationship with Wells Fargo was a “package deal.” In return for the company helping to finance his radio show, he went on the road for Wells Fargo. He said he owns his own radio and television show and while it frees him from network control, it also requires him to come up with his own financing.

TWI reported that the seminars appeared on the surface as a way to help black borrowers build wealth — but they were actually just the opposite. A  little-noticed explanation of the “Wealth Building” seminar strategy was contained in a lawsuit recently filed by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan.

According to the suit, Wells’ plan for the seminars all along was to target black borrowers for higher-cost subprime mortgages, not for wealth-building, the suit charged. And the seminars were a part of the bank’s overall illegal and discriminatory practice of steering black and Hispanic borrowers into riskier and more expensive loans, the suit said.

After TWI’s article on Thursday, The Root headlined a post: “Tavis, You Got Some ‘Splainin To Do.” Jack & Jill Politics ran a photograph of Smiley standing a podium during Smiley’s “State of the Black Union” event this year, surrounded by Wells Fargo logos, and offered this:

He has never said jack about predatory lending, and now, we have an idea WHY.

Wells Fargo has also been hit with  lawsuits from the city of Baltimore and the NAACP, alleging the banks targeted minority borrowers for higher cost loans. As TWI reported recently, lawsuits are winding their way through courts around the country, alleging discriminatory behaviors by banks and lenders. Wells has denied all charges in the suits, and has vowed to fight them.

*You can follow TWI on Twitter and Facebook. *

Daisy-Mae Schmitt | Daisy-Mae is obsessed with inventing new ways to create awesome content that's absurdly useful and successful, with over ten years of editorial and inbound marketing experience. She also serves as a reporter, strategist, interviewer, mentor, and therapist for in-house contributors and clients.

Related

Rep. Paul Ryan to deliver SOTU response

Chairman of the House Budget Committee Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) will deliver the Republican response to the State of the Union Tuesday, according to Mike Allen

Rep. Paulsen allies with medical device industry to relax FDA oversight

Source: Flickr; Republicanconference (www.flickr.com/photos/republicanconference) On the heels of the Minnesota Independent story last week about U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen’s cozy financial relationship with the medical device industry, the New York Times reported Tuesday that some health professionals are alarmed by Paulsen’s push to relax Food and Drug Administration (FDA) oversight

Rep. Paulsen touts balanced budget constitutional amendment

In a post for the conservative blog True North , U.S. Rep

Rep. Patrick McHenry: Please, Conservatives, Fill Out Your Census Forms!

The conservative congressman from North Carolina, a constant critic of the census -- one of the people who sounded the alarm about politicization when the

Rep. Paulsen, Karl Rove the latest to get ‘glittered’

Rep. Erik Paulsen and former Bush staffer Karl Rove were both showered with glitter at the Midwest Leadership Conference Friday

Rep. Perlmutter to hold constituent meet-up in grocery store

Colorado Congressman Ed Perlmutter will hold a Government in the Grocery constituent meet-up this evening from 5-7 at the Safeway at 38th and Wadsworth in Wheat Ridge. The address is 3900 Wadsworth. The meeting, where Perlmutter typically sits at a folding table and talks to whomever shows up, is free and open to the public

Rep. Perlmutter criticizes House measure that would eliminate 800K federal jobs

Congressman Ed Perlmutter today issued a scathing statement criticizing the House of Representatives for passing a spending bill that could put nearly a million federal employees out of work. The Colorado delegation voted strictly on party lines, with all four Republicans voting in favor of the bill and the three Democrats voting in opposition. Perlmutter’s statement: “My number one priority is to get people back to work because that’s the best thing we can do to pay our debt and move forward toward economic stability

Rep. Pete Stark Won’t Dignify Constituent by, er, Micturating Upon His Leg

In the tradition of Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), California Democratic Rep. Pete Stark revealed at a recent town hall gathering that there are limits to what

Rep. Peace, ACLU seek investigation of soldier’s allegations of racial discrimination in Afghanistan

Both Rep. Steve Pearce (R-NM) and the American Civil Liberties Union agree: There needs to be an investigation into Spc.

© Copyright 2021 The Washington Independent All Rights Reserved

Terms & Privacy | twi.news@washingtonindependent.com