One of the greatest honors of my life is serving on behalf of the citizens, families and small businesses of Maine in Congress. In my role as a member of the House Financial Services Committee, it is a top priority for me to help make sure hardworking Mainers can save for retirement, our small businesses can access credit to grow and our families can achieve the dream of home ownership.
That is why, serving on the committee, I have taken Wall Street and our country’s financial leaders to task. Industry leaders need to understand that their actions on Wall Street have a real effect on Maine communities. When Wall Street firms behave irresponsibly, it is Maine’s local community banks that suffer.
I was absolutely outraged when I heard reports of widespread fraud at Wells Fargo that surfaced in August. Like many Americans, I found it disturbing that Wells Fargo—one of the largest banks in the world—was operating under a systematic pattern of misbehavior and gross mismanagement over the last six years.
In my role on the committee, I aggressively questioned John Stumpf, the Wells Fargo CEO at the time of the fraud, at a recent Congressional hearing, which revealed that Wells Fargo created as many as 2 million new accounts without customers’ knowledge to reach internal sales quotas. This malfeasance and irresponsibility simply cannot be tolerated.
In Maine, our 31 community banks across our state provide good paychecks with benefits to 9,200 Mainers. We also have 58 credit unions, providing good jobs for over 2,250 hard-working people. These folks are relied upon in their communities. Mainers deposit their hard-earned paychecks and trust their teller and trust their bank manager.
I worry about the Mainers who depend on community banks and credit unions for access to credit. Big firms on Wall Street—like Wells Fargo—have the luxury of extensive legal teams to navigate financial regulations. But small community financial institutions in Maine do not. It’s not fair and it’s not right.
Mainers hoping to finance a new house to start their family might not be able to get the mortgages they need. I made this very clear to Mr. Stumpf and informed him that those responsible must be held accountable for the damage they have caused for thousands of Mainers and millions of Americans. Mr. Stumpf resigned shortly thereafter.
In Congress, I am continuing to push for reform that will lay the foundation for a growing American economy and good-paying jobs while rooting out fraud and corruption. Every day I’m fighting to grow and protect Maine jobs, give our families a fair shot, and help our businesses expand.