WASHINGTON, D.C. – The latest Public Financial Disclosure report from Trump Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao shows a continuing financial arrangement with her former employer, scandal-plagued Wells Fargo, allowing her to receive 50-percent of her deferred stock payout in March of 2020 and 50-percent in March 2021. Records show Chao has up to $5.25M in Wells Fargo stock, and in 2019, she reinvested up to $60,000 of her Wells Fargo dividends. Prior to joining the Trump administration, Chao was a director on Wells Fargo’s board from 2011 until 2017 — a period in which the bank was found to be engaging in widespread predatory behavior against its consumers and was accused of opening illegal accounts without consumer consent.
Chao has failed to adequately explain her potential role in the bank’s harmful practices. Government watchdog Accountable.US questioned why Chao has avoided accountability for her failure to properly oversee Wells Fargo’s operations even as she has continued to receive generous stock payments from the corporation.
“Hundreds of thousands of Americans were scammed on Secretary Chao’s watch at Wells Fargo,” said Kyle Herrig, president of Accountable.US. “Since the secretary chooses to continue taking advantage of her time spent there, there’s no time like the present for Congress to ask her what she knew about the bank’s harmful practices and when she knew it.”
As a board member, Chao sat on Wells Fargo’s Corporate Responsibility Committee, which was charged with overseeing issues related to the mega bank’s consumer lending. At the time, Wells Fargo committed massive grievances against its customers, including improperly repossessing service members’ cars and incorrectly foreclosing on homes. Additionally, Wells Fargo charged customers for insurance they did not want nor need while Chao served on its board.
Read more about Chao’s tainted tenure on the Wells Fargo board here.