Warren Questions Removal of Website for Wells Fargo Complaints

  • Senator questions Labor after getting ‘page not found’ error
  • Page was working the day President Trump took office, she says

U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren is demanding that the Labor Department restore a website set up to track complaints about Wells Fargo & Co.’s sales practices and is seeking assurance that the agency plans to continue its scrutiny of the bank under the Trump Administration.

Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat, wrote a letter requesting information on the status of Labor’s probe of San Francisco-based Wells Fargo after she received a “page not found” error when she tried to access the website this week.

“I am concerned that the Department of Labor has removed the website where Wells Fargo’s employees who were victims of the company’s fraudulent actions could file labor complaints or report illegal activity,” Warren wrote to acting Labor secretary Edward Hugler in the letter dated Thursday.

In September, the Labor Department said it started an investigation into Wells Fargo after the lender settled regulators’ claims that it created legions of unauthorized accounts for customers to reach sales targets. The complaint website was set up after Warren and a group of Democratic lawmakers asked the agency to look into whether the company violated wage and overtime rules while pushing branch workers to meet quotas.

The bank has apologized for breaking customers’ trust, pledged to make them whole and said it’s ending sales incentives that have been blamed for the abuses.

Inauguration Day

In her letter, Warren said that the page was working on Jan. 20, the day President Donald Trump took office.

Steve Barr, a spokesman for the Labor Department, said the website was taken down on Jan. 9, before Trump’s inauguration. He said he didn’t know the reason and that the agency hasn’t been informed by the White House about how the new administration wants to proceed on investigating Wells Fargo.

“We have been given no direction from the current administration on matters involving Wells Fargo," Barr said.

Lacey Rose, a spokeswoman for Warren, said in an e-mail that “regardless of which administration took down the website, Sen. Warren is concerned it came down and believes the Department of Labor should put back up the website as soon as possible.”

There have been changes on other federal agency web pages since Trump took office. Information about climate change has been removed from various government sites. The White House website no longer has a section on the topic. An Environmental Protection Agency page that answered “common questions” about global warming is gone. And reports on greenhouse gas emissions have vanished from the State Department’s internet site.

Hugler was named acting secretary after the exit of Tom Perez, the last chief of the agency under President Barack Obama. Trump’s pick to lead the agency, Andrew Puzder, chief executive officer of CKE Restaurants Inc., hasn’t yet been confirmed by the Senate.

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