O'Farrell Directs Staff to Report on Divesting from Wells Fargo

LA City Hall

City holds over $40M in securities with Wells Fargo that have a one to four year maturity.

CITY HALL -- Los Angeles City Councilmembers Mitch O’Farrell and Paul Koretz on Tuesday co-introduced a motion that starts the conversation to divest taxpayer funds from holdings with Wells Fargo Bank, due to its financial support of the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline.

“I want to send a clear message to the financial institutions everywhere that Los Angeles must fulfill its role as a national leader on the environment,” said Councilmember O’Farrell. “The actions we take locally have consequences elsewhere and we must not be complicit in a scheme that negatively affects ancestral lands or the sovereign rights of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in North Dakota. The City should divest its holdings from Wells Fargo in a manner that protects taxpayers’ interests, and reinvest those funds in responsible financial institutions that respect the rights of all individuals to be treated fairly and equitably. Wells Fargo needs to change its business practices, or risk losing a customer in the City of Los Angeles.”

"I'm proud to stand with Standing Rock," said Councilmember Paul Koretz. "Corporations like Wells Fargo often quote their 'fiduciary duty' to its stockholders when approving investments in projects like the Dakota Access Pipeline, however, if they actually looked at the bigger picture and the true cost of fossil fuel investments, which are wrecking our once-livable climate, they would see they are putting not only their stockholders at grave risk, but the entire planet. It's time the City stops doing business with the reckless and irresponsible people running these agencies."  

The motion (attached) directs the City’s Office of Finance to report within 30 days with options for divestment from all holdings with Wells Fargo, and include recommendations for immediate reinvestment of proceeds from any divestment actions into responsible securities or holdings with other financial institutions that comply with the City’s Responsible Banking Ordinance (CF 09-0234-S3).  The City of Los Angeles currently holds over $40M in securities with Wells Fargo that have a one to four year maturity.  


“Across the country, cities, counties and tribes are standing in Solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe for the protection of tribal sovereignty, and the inherent human right of access to clean water by promoting socially responsible banking, and defunding irresponsible banking institutions,” said Chrissie Castro, Vice Chair of the City-County Native American Commission. “The movement to defund the Dakota Access Pipeline is about standing up to corporate banking institutions by taking away what they care about most – their bottom line. It is the responsibility of all Angelenos to ensure the city’s banking practices are consistent with our values of justice, integrity and fairness.“

Recently, the Seattle City Council voted to break ties with Well Fargo due to its financial support of the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline Project.  Opponents of the Project have expressed concern that it will cause environmental devastation to the regions it crosses; including the lands of the Standing Rock Sioux.   Last year, the City Council unanimously approved a resolution opposing the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

The motion will be heard in the City’s Budget and Finance Committee.