WASHINGTON, D.C. – Ahead of a key markup this month of the Overdraft Protection Act of 2021, government watchdog Accountable.US reviewed political donations from big banks that still charge customers overdraft fees including JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America (BofA). The analysis found Republican members of the Senate Banking Committee and House Financial Services Committee have defended overdraft practices by mirroring bank industry talking-points while taking at least $3 million in career donations from industry groups and banks opposed to overdraft regulation. JPMorgan, Wells Fargo, BofA alone brought in over 44% of the nearly $15.5 billion in overdraft revenue big banks made in 2019—a total of over $6.8 billion.
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In addition, Accountable.US found several of these lawmakers were even rewarded with $41,000 in industry contributions in the days before and after defending overdraft fees, while others have former staffers that are now industry lobbyists.
Big Banks Are Charging Exorbitant Overdraft Fees
“Corporate greed that’s fueled inflation has already left consumers paying too much, and big banks like JPMorgan and Wells Fargo are only making matters even worse by charging exorbitant overdraft fees on top of it all. Unfortunately, many in Congress who are deep in the pocket of big banks have gone out of their way to defend one of the worst industry practices, like charging a $35 overdraft fee for a gallon of milk,” said Liz Zelnick, spokesperson for Accountable.US. “This predatory practice may disproportionately exploit working families, but it also winds up dragging down the economy for everyone else. These billions of dollars in abusive fees are being siphoned from the economy, money that could be otherwise spent on goods and services that create jobs rather than pad big banks’ bottom line.”
“The fact remains, giant banks like JPMorgan Chase would still be extremely profitable without nickel and diming low-income families with needless penalties, but they’d rather make a small group of investors even richer. Cracking down on fees will only help boost the economy – but what stands in the way are lawmakers working for big banks who put their donors before millions of consumers,” added Zelnick.
The new analysis follows a recent Accountable.US report revealing that that the CEOs of Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase and Bank Of America have all seen double-digit percentage pay increases and lived lavish lifestyles all while their banks reaped at least $3.76 billion from exploitive overdraft and non-sufficient funds fees in 2021 and have racked up nearly $5 billion in misconduct settlements since 2020.
Key Findings From The Report
- Republican members of the Senate Banking Committee and House Financial Services Committee have defended overdraft practices by mirroring talking-points used by top bank industry groups, while taking at least $3,012,300 in career donations from JPMorgan, Wells Fargo, BofA, and industry groups opposed to overdraft regulation.
- Two members of the Senate Banking and House Financial Services Committees have defended overdraft fees as former staffers worked as lobbyists for JPMorgan and the Bank Policy Institute, which is opposed to overdraft regulation.
- Two outspoken defenders of overdraft fees on the Senate Banking Committee have received $510,050 from banks and trade groups opposed to overdraft regulation.
- Nine defenders of overdraft fees on the House Financial Services Committee have received $2,033,750 from banks and trade groups opposed to overdraft regulation, with $29,500 received in the days before and after defending overdraft fees.
Accountable.US is a nonpartisan watchdog group that exposes corruption across all levels of government.