Oh, Crapo! Senator Broke Campaign Finance Law, Took Too Much Money from a Payday Lender

Federal Elections Commission Notifies Sen. Crapo of Donations from a Payday Lender that Exceed Limits, Violate Federal Campaign Finance Law

WASHINGTON, D.C. – This week consumer watchdog organization Allied Progress discovered a March 2018 letter from the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) to Sen. Mike Crapo’s campaign flagging two donations from a payday lender as “excessive contributions” in violation of campaign finance laws. Sen. Crapo chairs the powerful Senate Banking Committee which oversees the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and the payday lending industry.

Sen. Crapo could avoid problems like this if he would stop raising money from these unsavory financial bottom feeders who target those who can least afford it, trapping them in endless cycles of debt with 400, even 500% interest rate loans. The FEC flagged thousands of dollars in campaign cash that a payday lender gave Crapo. That money is the direct result of real suffering caused by this predatory industry,” said Karl Frisch, executive director of Allied Progress.

He continued, “As chair of the Senate Banking Committee, Crapo’s judgment and independence from the industries he oversees should be beyond reproach. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Time and again, Idaho’s senior senator has taken campaign cash from those with business before his committee. He is deeply conflicted and cannot be trust to do right by American consumers.”

This is the second issue Crapo has faced with the FEC in as many weeks. On April 19, Campaign for Accountability (CfA), a nonpartisan good government group focused on public accountability, filed a complaint with the FEC against Crapo and Vicki Hart, the lobbyist owner of an infamous Washington, D.C. condominium, for failing to disclose improper in-kind contributions. Hart is married to controversial lobbyist J. Steven Hart who was a registered lobbyist for HSBC during this time. Between Crapo’s October and November 2017 fundraisers at the condo, he introduced legislation to rollback some provisions of Dodd-Frank which would have benefited HSBC. The Hart’s are at the center of a scandal involving EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt who lived at this condo for several months, reportedly paying $50 per night, well-below market rate.


In March 2018, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) flagged two donations from Michael Hodges to Mike Crapo’s Senate campaign as “Excessive Contributions” in violation of campaign finance law. Hodges, the head of a payday lending company, donated a total of $4,600 to Crapo in 2017—over the individual contribution limit of $2,700 per election.

On March 26, 2018, the Federal Election Commission sent a letter to Paul Kilgore, Treasurer of Mike Crapo for US Senate, that listed five examples of “Excessive, Prohibited, and Impermissible Contributions” to Crapo’s campaign.

On June 26, 2017, Hodges donated $2,700 to Crapo; on November 1, 2017, Michael Hodges donated $1,900 to Crapo. The FEC classified the two contributions from Hodges as “Excessive Contributions from Individuals.” The FEC’s letter noted that an individual “may not make a contribution(s) to a candidate for federal office in excess of $2,700 per election.”

The FEC gave Crapo a due date of April 30, 2018 to give an “adequate response” to the accusations brought by the FEC. The FEC also noted that “failure to adequately respond by the response date… could result in an audit or enforcement action.” [Letter from Federal Election Commission to Mike Crapo for US Senate, 03/26/18.]

Mike Hodges is the chairman of Advance Financial, a Tennessee-based company that offers short-term loans. [“‘We’ll see $3.2 billion and 34,000 jobs disappear in Tennessee,’Nashville Post, 03/28/16.]

It is unclear whether Crapo’s campaign addressed this issue by the April 30 deadline. The FEC has posted previous letters addressing issues from Crapo’s campaign on its website; a letter regarding this issue has not been posted as of May 2, 2018.

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