Wells Fargo hires former Obama chief of staff

Wells Fargo hires former Obama chief of staff
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Wells Fargo has hired William Daley, former White House chief of staff to President Obama, to be its new head of public affairs as the bank struggles to free itself from unprecedented federal penalties.

The bank announced Thursday that Daley will join Wells Fargo as vice chairman of public affairs on Nov. 13. Daley, a vice chairman of The Bank of New York Mellon, will rejoin its former chief executive, Charles Scharf, who took over as Wells Fargo CEO in October. 

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In a statement, Scharf called Daley “a strong voice who brings perspectives from the public sector that we in business do not generally have but are critical for us as we make decisions.”

Daley, the youngest son of legendary Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, has cycled between senior positions in Democratic administrations and the banking sector for close to three decades.

Daley was appointed by former President Clinton to the board of Fannie Mae in in 1993 after four years leading Amalgamated Bank of Chicago and then served as Commerce Secretary between January 1997 and July 2000, covering almost all of Clinton’s second term. 

Daley then served as president of a communications company until he joined J.P. Morgan Chase as vice chairman in 2004.

Obama appointed Daley to be his second chief of staff in 2010, replacing former Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.). Emanuel would go on to replace Daley’s brother, Richard J. Daley, as mayor of Chicago in 2011. 

After leaving the White House in 2012, Daley waged a short-lived bid for Illinois governor in 2013 and failed to advance past the first round of voting in Chicago’s 2019 mayoral election. 

Daley’s political connections are expected to play a role in Wells Fargo’s efforts to repair its once-sterling reputation in Washington.

Since 2016, Wells Fargo has admitted to opening and charging fees on millions of banking and credit accounts for customers without their consent or knowledge. The bank also settled charges that it forced customers to buy unnecessary insurance products and failed to grant promised interest-rate adjustments, costing hundreds of customers their homes and automobiles.

The bank has paid more than $1 billion in fines and settlements. Several federal regulators have penalized Wells Fargo, including the Federal Reserve, which placed an unprecedented growth restriction on the bank in 2018.

Former Wells Fargo CEO Timothy Sloan, who took over the bank in 2016 amid the fake-accounts scandal, had expressed confidence in the company’s efforts to overhaul its culture and compliance practices.

But Sloan was forced out of Wells Fargo after the revelation of new alleged sales abuses, and a rare public rebuke from regulators added fuel to years of bipartisan outrage.

Scharf said the addition of Daley “is an important statement that we want different perspectives on our senior-most management committee and that we will think more broadly about our stakeholders as we move forward.”