Join us on Tuesday, April 24 in Des Moines to confront Wells Fargo at their annual shareholder meeting and demand they put People and our Planet before corporate greed. RSVP and get more details here.

Wells Fargo’s abusive actions have hurt millions of people – everyone from students and veterans to homeowners in our community.

Or, as Saqib Bhatti, director of the Refund America Project, reminds usWells Fargo was “one of the leading banks when it came to mortgage discrimination, really targeting communities of color with predatory mortgages. In fact, workers from within the bank have come forth and said that within Wells Fargo, they referred to subprime mortgages as “ghetto loans,” and said that they were intended for “mud people.” This is a type of culture that you had within Wells Fargo. […] What we found is, time and again, it’s black and Latino communities that are targeted for the worst of Wells Fargo’s racist practices.”

Wells Fargo rakes in profits while our communities suffer.

Enough is enough. They’ve chosen to hold this national meeting in Des Moines, hoping to escape the protests that have dogged the event in recent yearsWe’ll converge on their annual shareholder meeting in downtown Des Moines and demand they put People and Planet first.

We’ll kick off this powerful day of action at 8:30am. RSVP and get more details here.

To see Kim Reynolds will govern, just follow the money…

With the announcement of Governor Terry Branstad’s appointment as ambassador to China, Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds will be taking his place. Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement Board President Cherie Mortice released the following statement:

“We don’t need to wonder how Kim Reynolds will govern as Iowa’s incoming governor. All we need to do is follow the money.”

“We know she’s a pawn of business-as-usual corporate ag, since she and Branstad have taken campaign contributions of $248,298 from corporate ag kingpin Bruce Rastetter, $261,750 from meatpacking tycoon Eldon Roth, and over $88,000 from the Iowa Farm Bureau.

“We know where she stands on the Dakota Access Pipeline, since she took $2,500 from Energy Transfer Partners, and $31,000 from Wells Fargo, which is helping fund the pipeline.

“Big money is polluting Iowa politics and Kim Reynolds exemplifies that problem. All told, over the last ten years she has taken a total of $18 million in campaign contributions, primarily from big money donors and corporate PACs.

“Members of Iowa CCI across the state pledge to fight back against her corporate attacks, and instead promote our people and planet first vision for Iowa.”


Read more about our work on Clean Elections and learn about our sister org’s work on the 2018 Iowa gubernatorial race at


Cordray hears from community before public hearing

Members of Iowa CCI and other allies met on the morning of March 28 in Des Moines and sent him back to DC with a broad mandate to crack down on predatory payday lenders and mortgage servicers.

“It’s a telling irony – not lost on some of us – that we even need such a bureau, that we need protection from a financial mafia that should be in prison… but instead sits in places of power.” -CCI member Judy Lonning

The CFPB and Director Cordray were in Des Moines to meet with grassroots groups tackling predatory lending. CCI, in partnership with other allies, hosted a closed-door meeting to discuss predatory financial institutions and the CFPB’s role in holding them accountable. Following the closed-door meeting, CFPB held a public community forum to announce changes to their consumer complaint database to better serve consumers who were wronged and bring to light the predatory lending institutions that are the worst actors in the field of consumer lending.

In our closed door meeting, CCI member Cherie Mortice laid out the devastating effects payday loans – both storefront lenders and payday loans pushed by banks like Wells Fargo – have on families and neighborhoods like the one where she lives on the east side of Des Moines.  “I live in a working class neighborhood and it doesn’t take much to push these people over the edge,” said Mortice.  “Payday loans tear apart the economic stability of neighborhoods like mine, and if we don’t have serious regulations placed upon this industry, the people will see this as just another shell game to punt off responsibility.”

Mortice called on the CFPB to issue sweeping regulations of the payday loan industry, including extending the payback period for these loans due in full on the borrower’s next payday, as well as prohibiting the use of Social Security checks as collateral for obtaining a loan to protect the most vulnerable.  She also urged the CFPB to publicly stand with other financial regulators and move immediately to halt big banks like Wells Fargo from offering similar predatory loans to their customers.

If you want to join Cherie and thousands of others in calling on federal regulators to get big banks out of payday lending, take action here.

CCI member Jess Mazour laid out many of the abuses in the servicing industry she witnessed with her time at Wells Fargo during the height of the recession and foreclosure crisis.  “It seemed impossible for someone to work through the system for help.  I hated telling people sorry your husband got cancer, or sorry you lost your job – but you signed this contract and this is the process.  It seemed so immoral to me.”

CCI member Larry Ginter called on the CFPB to use everything in their power to clamp down on fraud and abuse in the servicing industry.  He specifically called on them to require all servicers to offer a struggling homeowner a modification in good faith, and most importantly to require them to correct any and all errors made in a modification – something servicers are currently only required to acknowledge, but not correct. “Servicers are experts at what they do,” Cordray explained. “It’s just that nobody is holding their feet to the fire.”

Judy Lonning, a CCI member from Des Moines, ended the closed-door meeting by directing the CFPB to fully embrace their work for we the people.  “You and your agency represent hope that things can change.  We need you to go over the heads of the financial elite to address in meaningful ways the grave injustices resulting from a climate where anything that maximizes profits has been regarded as fair game.”



With today’s action, CCI members have moved over $55,000 out of Wells Fargo this year

Iowa CCI members moved over $20,000 out of Wells Fargo in another powerful “Move Our Money” day of action, while a dozen others were there to cheer them on and send a strong message to corporate behemoths. Fed up with Wells Fargo’s financing of the private prison and payday loan industry, and their questionable lending practices targeting communities of color, CCI members have been moving their money out of the bank.

CCI member Tracy Bougher, who had been a customer of Wells Fargo for 40 years, finally said enough was enough. He closed his account today, along with his wife Karen.

“It had been a long time coming – I wasn’t going to let them keep nickling and dimeing everyday people. I am very happy I did this,” said CCI member Tracy Bougher.


Since May, over 25 accounts have been closed and today’s action put us at over $55,000 total moved out of Wells Fargo. A recent report released by National People’s Action and the Public Accountability Initiative revealed Wells Fargo’s deep ties and investments in the private prison industry. These findings prompted an intense month-long media blitz along with nationwide affiliates of the National People’s Action network. You can read the full report  and sign a petition here.

“As long as they keep investing in industries that destroy the community, we are done having accounts with Wells Fargo,”  said CCI member Nataly Espinoza, who closed her account with Wells Fargo at the end of 2011. “It is important for all of us to come out and support those taking action today,” she said.

In preparation for today’s Move Our Money action, Latino CCI members had been educating people through Spanish-language media on how private prisons are destroying immigrant communities, revealing the data on Wells Fargo’s investments and financing of private prisons, and encouraging Latinos to move their money in protest of the bank’s investments.

CCI received several calls and stories of people with terrible experiences with the bank, shocked at the fact that not only Wells Fargo was individually taking from them, but that it was also invested in the incarceration of immigrants.

And our actions are working! Last week, SEC filings made public showed that Wells Fargo dumped 75 percent of its aggregate holdings in the GEO Group, the nation’s second largest private prison company!

“It is good news to see that our campaign has caused Wells Fargo to dump part of their stock in GEO Group, but we must not let our guard down,” said CCI member Victor Torres.

“Wells Fargo is still investing and financing other private prison companies, we want them to dump all of their stock and stop lending money to private prisons,” he said. Victor closed his account at CCI’s first Move Our Money day in June.

Iowa CCI will keep encouraging Wells Fargo customers across Iowa to close their accounts until the bank pledges to stop profiting at the expense of immigrant detention and discriminatory lending practices.

Here are some pictures from today’s action:

Created with flickr slideshow.

LIKE and TWEET to give CCI members a virtual high five for moving their money!

Learn More

  • Interested in moving your money? Read more.
  • Click here to read more on our work to hold Wells Fargo accountable.

Join the Fight

  • Join as an Iowa CCI member today or chip in $10 to support our organizing on this issue.
  • Sign up for our E-Mail Action list to get the latest updates.
  • Follow us on Facebook and  Twitter for more fun photos and live action updates.

Wells Fargo is in trouble. Our campaign is making waves and new information continues to come out about Wells Fargo’s corporate crimes.


Read more for an update on how we’re turning the heat up this summer!

Ripple Effect:

Move Our Money actions and information has had a rippling effect in the Latino community in Iowa.  Through our organizing, 16 Latino members or friends closed their accounts with Wells Fargo and 5 more are currently preparing to do so.  And that’s only the people we know about.

Yesterday we received this message, unprompted, from an employee at a local credit union:

“A lot of people are telling me that they are closing their accounts at banks in order to come to [our credit union]. And I know it is because of the efforts you all are doing. Thanks a lot.”

Sharing Letters:

Alberto Zuniga, a CCI member, told us he needed information for his co-workers at a local restaurant who have been chatting together in the kitchen about the Wells Fargo private prison scandal.  His co-workers have closed their accounts or are in the process of closing, so he took some letters for them to mail to Wells Fargo to let them know exactly why they are fed up with the big bank.

Get your own copy of the letter here:

Discrimination Lawsuit:

Remember the back and forth we had with Wells Fargo where they claimed they don’t tolerate discrimination? Well, Wells Fargo has been forced to settle with the Department of Justice for discriminatory lending against blacks and Latinos and will pay $175 million. That’s a lot of money to make sure all the skeletons don’t come out of the closet!

From the Washington Post: “Deputy Attorney General James Cole said the bank’s discriminatory lending practices resulted in more than 34,000 African-American and Hispanic borrowers in 36 states and the District of Columbia paying higher rates for loans solely because of the color of their skin.”

More Action:

Round two of our advertisement in El Enfoque will come out this week and next, directing people to our next Move Our Money planning session on July 26.


Learn More

  • Interested in moving your money? Read more.
  • Click here to read more on our work to hold Wells Fargo accountable.

Join the Fight

  • Join as an Iowa CCI member today or chip in $10 to support our organizing on this issue.
  • Sign up for our E-Mail Action list to get the latest updates.
  • Follow us on Facebook and  Twitter for more fun photos and live action updates.


You can tell you’ve hit a nerve with Wells Fargo when…

… they reply to your newspaper ad with a 700-word letter trying to debunk it.

Last week, top Wells Fargo official Marta Codina submitted a letter to El Enfoque newspaper saying that “Wells Fargo & Company does not hold shares in any of the two private prison companies mentioned by the activist groups” and “it is regrettable that groups that defend certain causes issue mistaken opinions about us to push a political or social agenda.”

Plain and simple, they are worried about the effect that Iowa CCI’s organizing will have on the Latino community – a market which they largely control here in Iowa.

They’ve held staff meetings with local branches on how to respond to our members and gritted their teeth when members moved their money from Wells Fargo.

We replied to set the facts straight, publicly, once and for all.  Will Wells Fargo respond?  Who knows, but its fun to have a little back and forth with one of the biggest banks in the country. In the meantime, we keep organizing and building power.

Our response in El Enfoque:

 As readers of this newspaper have noticed, Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement has been working with our members and other community members to educate them on their financial options and encourage them to move their money to a bank or credit union that does not profit from the suffering of immigrant families, specifically moving their money from Wells Fargo.


Last week, Marta Codina from Wells Fargo tried to pacify those who are starting to realize that Wells Fargo profits from private prisons and does not have their best interests at heart.  She accused us of using misleading facts and pushing a political and social agenda.  Well, we do have an agenda.  Our agenda is worker and immigrant rights and dignity for all people.  Our agenda is a fair economy that works for everyone, not only the 1% and big banks that continue to get rich from the work of others.  We know that many people in the community feel the same and we continue to unite the community and demand justice for everyone.


Now many people are probably wondering about the facts.  Does Wells Fargo invest in the private prison company GEO Group or not?  The answer is that Wells Fargo misled you in its response.  Here is what we know:


According to documents that GEO Group filed on March 13, 2012 with the Securities and Exchange Commission: “Wells Fargo & Company reported that, as of December 31, 2011, it beneficially owned 4,446,026 shares with sole voting power over 4,398,614 of such shares, shared voting power over 794 of such shares, sole dispositive power over 4,300,251 of such shares and shared dispositive power over 80 of such shares.” On March 31, 2012, Wells Fargo reported they held 7.7% of all GEO shares, making them the third largest shareholder.


In addition to the stocks that Wells Fargo & Company own, Wells Fargo Advantage mutual funds separately controls over 2,815,200 shares in GEO Group. Wells Fargo Advantage administers those stocks for mutual fund holders, but the individuals don’t get to decide where they invest their money – Wells Fargo does.  It is Wells Fargo’s decision to have the mutual funds invested in GEO Group.


What does this mean?  It means that according to GEO Group, Wells Fargo has voting authority over the majority of its shares and the power to dispose of (or get rid of) the majority of its shares.  So, when Wells Fargo says they do not own shares in GEO Group, or that “Wells Fargo Advantage” actually owns everything and administers these shares on behalf of invisible third parties, either they are confused or GEO Group is, or they are simply attempting to mislead all of us.  Here’s what we say to Wells Fargo: It’s your name on the stock – get rid of it!


In addition to their investments in private prisons, Wells Fargo has discrimination problems.  In 2011, Wells Fargo was fined $85 million by the Federal Reserve after the Fed determined that Wells Fargo had intentionally pushed people of color with good credit into expensive mortgages and falsified loan applications during the sub-prime mortgage boom. This is the largest consumer lending fine the Federal Reserve has ever issued.  Wells Fargo is also under investigation by the Department of Justice, and was sued by the cities of Baltimore and Memphis. In all cases, Wells Fargo denies wrongdoing, preferring to settle out of court and sweep the wrongdoing under the rug.


Wells Fargo pushes products onto its customers, wanting to make as much money as possible through questionable insurance, unfair fees, and confusing charges for even having an account.  A member of ours purchased insurance though their Wells Fargo account and paid $40 a month.  When they needed to use the insurance they couldn’t because they did not have immigration documents.  Why did Wells Fargo sell them that insurance in the first place?


Wells Fargo is not hurting – in fact they are making more money than ever before.  In just January, February, and March of this year, they made $4.2 BILLION in profits.  Their CEO John Stumpf made over $19 million in 2011. They can divest in private prisons, stop their predatory practices and still make gigantic profits.


We hope that this clears up any doubts you may have about the actions of Iowa CCI members in the past weeks.  If you would like to close your Wells Fargo account we can help connect you with community banks and credit unions that accept Matricula ID, just call us at 515-282-0484.


We are not against friends and family who work at Wells Fargo, but we will continue to question the damaging policies that come from the CEO and other high ranking officials.  We call on Wells Fargo to divest, dispose of their shares in GEO Group as a signal that they will listen to their clients and the community and do the right thing.


We thank everyone who has contacted us about this issue and we will continue to be a voice for immigrant and worker justice.  We are not afraid.  Join the cause!


Learn More

  • Interested in moving your money? Read more.
  • Click here to read more on our work to hold Wells Fargo accountable.

Join the Fight

  • Join as an Iowa CCI member today or chip in $10 to support our organizing on this issue.
  • Sign up for our E-Mail Action list to get the latest updates.
  • Follow us on Facebook and  Twitter for more fun photos and live action updates.


LIKE and SHARE if you want these facts to spread far and wide!