Yesterday, I grilled Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf on his company's widespread defrauding of customers. You can read a transcript here or watch video here.
Wells Fargo is a California company. Plenty of our neighbors work at Wells Fargo or bank at Wells Fargo. You might yourself be a customer. But I've yet to see Stumpf set a path that will start rebuilding the trust Wells Fargo lost and right the wrongs it committed.
Through opening unauthorized accounts or playing the shell game with a person’s money, Wells Fargo negatively impacted the credit of the victims of its fraud. Not to mention the working Americans potentially terminated by Wells Fargo for refusing to commit fraud and fake their sales numbers.
Financial institutions are a vital part of a free economy. They enable us to start businesses, buy homes, and invest in our communities. But there are rules of the road. I voted against bailing out companies like Wells Fargo with taxpayer money after the financial crisis and I made it clear yesterday that my investigation of Wells Fargo was just starting.
News for September 23-30, 2016
||Rep. Royce Introduces Bill to Save Taxpayers Money on Flood Insurance
This week, Rep. Royce introduced the bipartisan H.R. 6196, the Repeatedly Flooded Communities Preparation Act. The proposal is an attempt to cut down on resources spent by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) to cover claims by property owners of homes repeatedly flooded. Why is this important? When the NFIP is unable to cover its claims, taxpayers foot the bill.
“It’s said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results, yet when it comes to the NFIP and properties that flood repeatedly, that's what we do. One NFIP-insured home valued at $69,000 flooded 34 times in 32 years and racked up $663,000 in claims; it's time to stop the madness for taxpayers who subsidize this cycle," said Rep. Royce.
As of January 2016, there were more than 150,000 structures around the country classified as “Repetitive Loss Properties" (RLPs) by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). FEMA estimates that these properties comprise just one percent of those insured by the NFIP, but represent 25 to 30 percent of all flood claims. The NFIP is more than $23 billion in debt to the U.S. Treasury and according to a 2009 report by FEMA’s Inspector General, the number of RLPs increases by nearly 5,000 each year. From 1978 through 2011, RLP losses added up to more than $12 billion— or approximately half of the NFIP’s debt.
The Repeatedly Flooded Communities Preparation Act requires communities with a significant number of RLP to:
- Map repeatedly flooded properties and public infrastructure to determine the specific areas that should be priorities for voluntary buyouts, drainage improvements, or other mitigation efforts.
- Develop and implement plans for mitigating flood risk in these problem areas.
- Submit these plans as well as reports on progress to FEMA, an organization that is under the purview of Congressional oversight.
A summary of Rep. Royce's bill can be viewed here.
||Rep. Royce Working to Stop ID Theft
Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the United States. It threatens the financial security of millions of Americans, as well the economic stability of the United States as a whole. In fact, every two seconds, another American becomes a victim of identity fraud. Even worse, children, veterans, and seniors are especially vulnerable to such attacks. Despite these alarming statistics, there is a high prevalence of unnecessarily printed Social Security numbers on documents issued by the federal government.
That's why Rep. Royce cosponsored H.R. 3779, the Social Security Fraud Prevention Act of 2016. It addresses concerns regarding the prevalence of Social Security Numbers on government-issued documents. Specifically, the legislation aims to specify the circumstances under which inclusion of full SSNs is necessary and otherwise partially redact or completely remove the SSN from government-issued documents mailed. This legislation passed the House earlier this week.
|U.S. Fights Poaching as Consumer Demand Prompts Elephant, Rhino Slaughter
|The excerpt below is from an article in the Washington Post that can be read here.
Who knew the wildlife in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) included elephants and rhinos?
Unfortunately, too many of them are dead.
FWS, generally focused on homegrown critters, co-chairs an interagency task force, along with the State and Justice departments. It is charged with strategizing against international wildlife trafficking. The co-chair agencies provide foreign partners with a variety of services to combat the illegal trade, including law enforcement assistance, diplomatic initiatives and legal training.
President Obama established the task force with a July 2013 executive order. It directed 17 federal agencies to support anti-poaching activities, including a reduction in consumer demand for products that no one really needs, like souvenirs and trinkets made from elephant tusks. FWS estimated that in 2012 one elephant was killed for its ivory every 15 minutes.
People in the United States are major consumers of the illegal products, as are the wealthy in Asia where the items are considered “luxury goods that enhance social status,” according to Obama’s 2014 “National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking.”
Poaching is “an international crisis that continues to escalate,” Obama’s executive order declared. “Poaching operations have expanded beyond small-scale, opportunistic actions to coordinated slaughter commissioned by armed and organized criminal syndicates.”
International trade in the illegal merchandise was worth an estimated $7 billion to $23 billion annually in 2013.
“While criminal elements of all kinds, including some terrorist entities and rogue security personnel, engage in poaching and transporting ivory and rhino horn across Africa, transnational organized criminals are the driving force behind wildlife trafficking,” the report said.
To make sure FWS’s protection of elephants and rhinos didn’t go unnoticed, the agency staged its second high profile “ivory crush” in June 2015, this time in New York City’s Times Square. One ton of ivory was crushed to send “a message to ivory traffickers and their customers that the United States will not tolerate this illegal trade.” Three years ago, the first crush in Denver destroyed six tons of elephant ivory seized by FWS agents and inspectors.
Wildlife trafficking has broader, even more sinister implications. “Many of the organized criminal gangs at the center of the trafficking rings are also implicated in the trafficking of drugs, arms, and even people,” FWS said.
This is big business.
“The price of rhino horn had reached approximately $27,000 per pound — which, at that time, was twice the value of gold and platinum and more valuable on the black market than diamonds and cocaine,” GAO reported, citing a 2012 study by the World Wildlife Fund and the Dalberg consulting firm.
Congress is getting into the fight with last week’s final approval of the Eliminate, Neutralize, and Disrupt (END) Wildlife Trafficking Act of 2016, sponsored by Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Edward R. Royce (R-Calif). The legislation supports increased assistance to local officials fighting poachers “who are often armed with night-vision goggles, heavy weaponry, and even helicopters,” according to Royce’s office.
Read more here.