November 15, 2022

Casten Statement on Responses from Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Regarding SFOF Sponsorship

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Congressman Sean Casten (IL-06) has released the following statement on Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase’s continued sponsorship of the State Financial Officers Foundation (SFOF) following Wells Fargo’s response to Rep. Casten’s October letter urging them to end their support. 

Wells Fargo’s response can be found here. JPMorgan stated they would not provide a written response.

“The State Financial Officers Foundation (SFOF) is a dark money group that has been weaponizing state treasurers and lawmakers against climate-related financial risk management by coordinating to cancel contracts and otherwise sever ties with financial firms that consider climate change in their business strategies,” said Rep. Sean Casten. “The CEOs of Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase told me they would end their sponsorship of this group if it was shown that the SFOF was misleading the public, but the megabanks are now unwilling to follow through, opting instead to attend this week’s SFOF conference in D.C..”

 “The responses I received from Wells Fargo and JPMorgan are disappointing. While Mr. Dimon and Mr. Scharf seemed unaware of their companies’ involvement with an organization that is making our financial system more dangerous, they can no longer claim ignorance. By refusing to end their sponsorship, they are choosing to be complicit whenever states pass harmful laws that force them to arbitrarily cancel contracts with banks that take climate risk into account” Rep. Casten continued. “These laws are gambling with workers’ retirement and driving huge costs for the public in Texas and other states where they’ve been passed. If they are committed to engaging with the SFOF, I encourage JPMorgan, Wells Fargo, and other financial institutions to use their time at this week’s conference to urge the SFOF to stop promoting harmful legislation that is driving financial risk and costing the public hundreds of millions of dollars.”

In September, JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon and Wells Fargo CEO Charles Scharf responded to Financial Services Committee Hearing questioning from Rep. Casten that they would likely end their support of the SFOF if it was true the group was spreading misinformation and attempting to prevent the financial sector from freely allocating capital. 

Following the hearing, Rep. Casten and 14 Members of the U.S. House and Senate wrote to Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase urging them to end their sponsorship of the SFOF.  

In August, the New York Times reported that the SFOF has been at the forefront of a coordinated attack on climate financial action by Republican state treasurers.

Four states have passed model legislation based on the "Energy Discrimination Elimination Act," which seeks to punish financial institutions that are deemed to be "boycotting" fossil fuels, and three additional states have passed similar attacks on socially responsible investing and prudent risk analysis. These laws led West Virginia’s treasurer to falsely claim that certain large financial institutions are boycotting fossil fuels, and cancel contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars with Wells Fargo, Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase, and Goldman Sachs. Nationally, these laws are having their intended “chilling effect” on financial institutions, have turned out to be a nightmare of implementation, and are proving costly for the public and municipalities.

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