Election irony of the day

As I was combing through the City Council candidates’ filed paperwork, I came across something particularly ironic.

Jon Grant’s F-1 financial disclosure is amusing.

The former Tenants Union head is a homeowner.  And a landlord (he rents out a room in his house).  And as of the beginning of December when he filed the paperwork, his mortgage was held by Wells Fargo Bank.

Given his op-ed this morning arguing that the city should divest from Wells Fargo, I sincerely hope he’s taken the step of divesting himself (and if he has, he should update his F-1 filing).

None of this suggests Grant is actually doing anything wrong, of course. It’s just not at all what I expected.


  1. Mortgages are frequently resold by the original lender to a servicing bank. Two of mine ended up with Chase, though I had not used them as a lender either time. You can’t control that, short of spending a fair bit of money refinancing and hoping it gets sold elsewhere next time.

    So it is likely that Grant is not a voluntary “customer” of Wells Fargo.

    1. That’s true, but as such it points out the problem with blanket calls for divestment like Grant’s.

      1. The city’s situation is different as they have a contract specifically with Wells Fargo to provide services.

        I would agree with Maarten: if an individual owes a debt and Wells Fargo has purchased that debt and has the right to collect payments, this is not something the individual can control and does not mean the individual is invested in Wells Fargo or could disinvest.

        1. Mortgages get re-financed to other financial institutions all the time, including to financial institutions with written policies that they will not sell your loan. Yes, there is a cost to that, but there is also going to be a substantial cost to the City of Seattle, both logistical and monetary, to move all of its banking services to another institution.

      2. It’s not a “blanket call for divestment.” As a result of Wells-Fargo’s capital support for the Dakota pipeline—as well as well publicized sleazy business practices—many people are suggesting that the City of Seattle withdraw its substantial deposits from that bank.

        Where you put your money is a voluntary decision; who holds your mortgage is not. The City of Seattle could easily stash its cash in (insured) credit union accounts. What’s “the problem”?

        1. Actually, who holds your mortgage is, at least in part, under your control. There are banks and credit unions that have written policies that they will not sell your mortgage.

          Under state law, the City of Seattle cannot use credit union accounts. The list of banks they can use is actually very restrictive.

          And to be clear, I’m not criticizing in any way the call to divest from Wells Fargo; I support it. I’m pointing out the irony that Grant not only is calling for the city to divest but also participated in a protest outside a Wells Fargo branch office where individuals went in and closed their own accounts too — all mentioned in his op-ed yesterday — but hasn’t personally divested.

          1. Rare is the borrower who knows the fine print regarding the portability of their loan documents. Let alone would think to negotiate a “no sales” clause. Most lenders explicitly reserve the right to sell to someone else.

            I did not know that about state law restriction. IMO that law should be changed over the squealing of the bank lobbyists.

  2. Under this definition, the only way he could “divest” is to pay a big lump sum of money to Wells Fargo after having acquired financing somewhere else. That is still not sounding like the usual definition of divestment to me. But that’s OK if we have different ideas about what the word means.

    Or maybe he could best “divest” by simply not making any more mortgage payments? In fact the info on his financial disclosure form does not rule out him already having divested in this way.

    1. That’s just word games. The city’s banking services don’t count as “divesting” either, since in the true sense of the word divesting is about no longer being invested there, as in securities. In all these cases, we’re talking about an individual or the city ceasing to do business with Wells Fargo in ways that the bank makes money from, whether it’s a mortgage, an individual bank account, municipal banking services, or managing the issuance of bonds on behalf of the city.

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