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House Financial Services’ 2 Social Media Stars Can Extend a Hearing’s Spotlight

In an exchange between Porter and Dimon that was widely disseminated online, the California Democrat asks Dimon about a JPMorgan employee who, making $16 an hour in her Orange County-based district, doesn’t earn enough to pay all her expenses.

“How should she manage this budget shortfall when she’s working full-time at your bank?” she asks.

“I don’t know, I’d have to think about that,” Dimon replied after Porter pressed him on the question.

A tweet from Porter’s account to her 69,600 followers referring to the exchange had garnered around 31,000 likes as of Friday morning, and clips of the dialogue had been shared by accounts such as TicToc by Bloomberg, which reaches investors and financial decision-makers.

“It doesn’t mean a bill has to be passed,” an aide for Porter said Friday. “It informs the policy conversation, it informs the internal policy conversations at the banks and it informs what the regulators are thinking.”

For Ocasio-Cortez and Porter, the hearings can serve as a way to stoke their base, much of which blames large Wall Street firms for economic hardship from the financial crisis. More broadly, criticism of Wall Street will continue to be a prominent theme in the Democratic primary, particularly given the messaging focus of Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

“It’s a good political opportunity for Democrats,” said Brad Bannon, a political strategist who works with Democratic candidates. “What you’re really doing here is laying the groundwork for issues in the presidential campaign.”

Ocasio-Cortez’s office declined to comment.

For banks, a social media-fueled hit to their reputation has the potential to influence business decisions by individual consumers and investors.

A lender that has a strong consumer banking business could find that consumers abandon or avoid a bank repeatedly targeted by politicians in events like the House Financial Services hearing or by other high-profile politicians such as Warren, said Anthony D’Angelo, director and professor of communications management at Syracuse University.

He cited the example of lingering consumer distaste hurting Wells Fargo Co.’s attempts to recover from its scandals. In 2018, revenue fell in its consumer banking segment, along with its other business units, wholesale banking and wealth management. In its 2019 first-quarter results, released Friday, revenues continued to slide overall and in the lender’s consumer unit compared to the year-ago period.