The Charlotte Observer reports that Wells Fargo currently has more than 150 lobbyists in 31 state capitals; five years ago, it boasted 47 lobbyists in 10 states. At a federal level, Wells Fargo is the most prominent spender on Capitol Hill lobbying, shelling out $3.8 million during the first half of the year. Last year, the San Francisco-based lender was the financial services industry's top spender for federal lobbying.
Wells Fargo explains its lobbying growth is not purely political, but is based on laws that require some employees seeking government contracts to register as so-called ‘procurement lobbyists.’
‘There's been an increase in procurement lobbying laws over the past few years, and Wells Fargo strives to comply with applicable laws and regulations,’ says Josh Dunn, a Wells Fargo spokesperson.
Peggy Kerns, director of the ethics center at the National Conference of State Legislatures, found no fault in Wells Fargo's lobbying endeavors.
‘It's not inherently bad to increase the number [of lobbyists],’ she says. ‘If there are certain policy issues that are being taken up, that happens. The number of lobbyists ebbs and flows based on what the issues are.’