Wells Fargo spokesman Peter Gilchrist on Thursday appeared to admit in an email to the Los Angeles Times that an official statement linking employee pay raises to the GOP tax bill was false, saying the minimum wage increases were preplanned, before backtracking without explanation after the story was published.
“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 after backtracking.
However, Gilchrist had indicated earlier that there was no direct link between the bank’s pay raise and the GOP’s tax bill.
“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,” he told the Los Angeles Times in an email.
Asked if the pay raises were not connected to the tax reform bill, Gilchrist said, “that is correct.”
The Hill added:
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.
Wells Fargo’s praise of the GOP tax bill follows President Trump’s promise to penalize the bank for its alleged mishandling of customers’ mortgage fees, a case that acting Consumer Finance Protection Bureau Director Mick Mulvaney is currently reviewing.