Wells Fargo says spokesman made mistake de-linking tax cuts from pay hike
© Greg Nash

A spokesman for Wells Fargo bank on Thursday made a mistake when he told the Los Angeles Times that pay hikes announced by the bank were not connected to the GOP tax bill.

“Our spokesperson made a mistake and we apologize for this," said Arati Randolph, director of internal communications at Wells Fargo. "Our announcement was directly related to the passage of tax reform.”

The Times initially posted a story that said a spokesman for Wells Fargo had said the pay hike was not related to the tax bill that Congress finished off on Wednesday.

"As it relates to team members, minimum pay is a topic that we continue to review as part of our efforts to attract and retain talent, and we have been on a path to increasing the minimum hourly rate, having most recently increased it in January 2017,” spokesman Peter Gilchrist told the Los Angeles Times in an email.

Asked if that meant the pay hikes were not connected to the tax bill, Gilchrist said, "that is correct," the newspaper reported.

After the story was published, Gilchrist contacted the news organization again to say a hike in minimum pay at Wells Fargo to $15 per hour came as a direct result of the tax bill approved by Congress this week. 

“We believe tax reform is good for our U.S. economy and are pleased to raise our minimum hourly pay to $15 as a result,” Gilchrist said.

The remarks reverberated in Washington, where Republicans and Democrats are working furiously to shape perceptions of the GOP tax bill, which will reduce the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent. 

Wells Fargo was one of a number of companies that released statements on Wednesday that linked increased pay or bonuses to employees to the tax bill.

AT&T, Comcast and Boeing all announced bonuses following the bill's passage through Congress. 

“We believe tax reform is good for our U.S. economy and are pleased to take these immediate steps to invest in our team members, communities, small businesses, and homeowners,” Wells Fargo CEO and President Tim Sloan said in the Thursday statement that mentioned the $15 minimum pay. 

The White House and Republicans have touted the statements as early indications of the benefits the tax bill will provide to people across the country.  

Wells Fargo's praise of the Republican legislation comes after President TrumpDonald John TrumpGillibrand backs federal classification of third gender: report Former Carter pollster, Bannon ally Patrick Caddell dies at 68 Heather Nauert withdraws her name from consideration for UN Ambassador job MORE called out the bank and promised it would receive steep penalties for its alleged mishandling of customers' mortgage fees, a case that acting Consumer Finance Protection Bureau Director Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyHigh stakes as Trump, Dems open drug price talks Trump declares national emergency at border Puerto Rico governor threatens legal action over national emergency declaration: 'See you in court' MORE is reviewing.