As Wells Fargo Looks to Clean Up Its Act, D.C. Finds More Mud

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(Bloomberg) -- Wells Fargo & Co. has spent a lot of time and money trying to clean up its reputation after a series of damaging scandals, but Washington doesn’t seem ready to free the bank from its role as one of lawmakers’ favorite punching bags.

Speaking Thursday at a breakfast sponsored by Wells Fargo, against a backdrop plastered with its logo, Representative Jeb Hensarling told reporters, lobbyists and consultants that fines against the San Francisco-based bank over its customer accounts scandal should’ve gone even further than they have.

“What happened at Wells Fargo is nothing short of fraud and theft,” the House Financial Services Committee chairman said at the event hosted by Politico. “At the end of the day there are individuals, individual human beings responsible for this sordid affair and we’ve yet to see them be held accountable.”

The Texas Republican’s comments show the difficulty the bank is facing in Washington, where politicians on both sides of the aisle use its scandals to further their agenda on a range of issues. Hensarling points to the customer-accounts case as an example of the failures of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, an agency that he wants to see reformed.

Wells Fargo is spending a lot of money to repair its brand. At Thursday’s breakfast, the bank’s new head of government relations, David Moskowitz, gave a speech and showed a video about Wells Fargo’s community service and work with veterans.

And as the event was getting underway, the Wall Street Journal published another story with bad news for the bank, reporting that employees in a wholesale unit added information to internal customer records without clients’ knowledge.

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