Wells Fargo thought what happened in Vegas would stay in Vegas. Not this time. After receiving $25 billion last year in bailout money Wells Fargo decided to go through with their annual employee conference.
“Recognition events are still part of our culture,” spokeswoman Melissa Murray said Tuesday afternoon. “It’s really important that our team members are still valued and recognized.” Corporate retreats have attracted criticism since the bank bailout last fall. Congress scolded insurance giant American International Group Inc. for spending $440,000 on spa treatments for executives just days after the company took $85 billion from taxpayers. AIG has since canceled all such outings. The weekend of Feb. 25, Wells Fargo’s insurance division is scheduled to host a 40-person team for a two-day meeting at the Mandalay Bay Hotel, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. Kevin Waetke, another spokesman for Wells Fargo, defended the trip. He said the company, which recently acquired Wachovia Corp., had a long-standing tradition of recognizing top employees. “This year, we have the unique opportunity to bring together our Wells Fargo and new Wachovia mortgage consultants to focus on continuing to do all we can for U.S. homeowners,” Waetke said.
Congress was watching. They had a slightly different view on the necessity of the Vegas conference.
“Let’s get this straight: These guys are going to Vegas to roll the dice on the taxpayer dime?” said Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, a West Virginia Republican who sits on the House Financial Services Committee. “They’re tone deaf. It’s outrageous.”
Wells Fargo attempted to defend their decision to spend our money. Their shaky defense crumbled against a veritable siege of blogger and journalist attacks. Wells Fargo has since canceled their Vegas vacation.
I’m not sure why they thought they would get away with this. After AIG and Citigroup got busted for similar things everyone has been on the lookout for bailout abuses. The balls of these companies just surprises the Hell out of me. Wells Fargo was one of the major players in the whole sub-prime mortgage fiasco that got this recession ball rolling. Now they want to spend taxpayer money on frivolities and Cher? Can we bring back the stockades?