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New Statement Claims Ties Cut Shortly After Promoting Bank at State of the Black Union
As The Washington Independent (TWI) reported last Thursday, Wells Fargo & Co. teamed up with talk show host and commentator Tavis Smiley for "Wealth Building" seminars in African-American neighborhoods beginning in 2005.  A suit by the Illinois Attorney General contends Wells Fargo used the seminars to market high-cost and risky subprime loans to minority borrowers. 

TWI offered Smiley multiple opportunities to comment on the story and its follow-up companion before and after it went live, to which Smiley either did not respond or declined.  

TWI reports that a new statement posted today on his Web site asserts Smiley made the decision to sever ties with Wells Fargo in the "first quarter" of 2009, shortly after Smiley's State of the Black Union symposium.  Following his decision to end the relationship, an undated statement was posted to Smiley's Web site, which TWI quoted and linked to in the September 17 article

That original statement notes, "Wells Fargo is currently not a sponsor of [The Smiley Group] or Tavis Smiley Foundation programs and will not be a sponsor for [State of the Black Union] for 2010." 

Wells Fargo was the title sponsor for the State of the Black Union 2009, which was held on February 27-28.  According to C-SPAN footage of the event, Smiley informed the predominantly African-American audience that "Wells Fargo is your financial action planning guide to every stage of life."

The Washington Independent is a national news and politics Web site based in Washington, DC.  Its team delivers original reporting daily.  TWI is published by the nonpartisan and nonprofit Center for Independent Media.

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