Report: Payday Lending Industry Bought Florida’s Political Establishment for $2.5 Million

Down to Two: Public Asked to Pick Between Reps. Patrick Murphy and Alcee Hastings for Next Congressional Payday Pal to Be Exposed

Read The Report:

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, after two weeks of voting, Allied Progress announced that it has narrowed the field of payday lending industry allies in Congress that it will consider exposing from an initial list of seven to a pair finalists: Reps. Patrick Murphy and Alcee Hastings. Members of the public had been asked help select the next target in the ongoing payday lending accountability campaign, which initially featured demands that Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz stop undermining President Obama’s efforts to rein in the worst abuses of the predatory industry. The final round of voting will begin May 23 with a “winner” to be announced June 7 with paid media including television advertising.

“The public’s interest in helping us to select the next congressional payday lending industry ally to be exposed has been overwhelming. With thousands of votes cast, Reps. Patrick Murphy and Alcee Hastings have emerged as the clear frontrunners for this dubious distinction,” said Allied Progress executive director Karl Frisch. “Murphy and Hastings have worked overtime in their efforts to sabotage President Obama’s fight to rein in predatory payday lenders. They have taken tens of thousands of dollars from payday loan sharks while Florida families pay the price.”

Over the course of his career, Rep. Hastings has accepted more money from the payday lending industry than any other current member of Congress from Florida – at least $116,700. On several occasions, Rep. Hastings has even taken official actions to benefit the industry within days of accepting these contributions. Murphy on the other hand, has taken at least $51,000 from payday lenders during his relatively short congressional career. Both Hastings and Murphy signed a letter encouraging Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) director Richard Cordray to adopt the disastrous “Florida model” of payday lending reform. Murphy is also the sponsor and Hastings a cosponsor of H.R. 4018, which would gut the CFPB’s upcoming payday loan regulations by delaying those new rules in favor of states with Florida-style laws where the average borrower is saddled with nine 300%+ interest loans each year and nearly one-in-three are burdened with a dozen or more.

Florida’s Political Establishment Bought by Payday Lending Industry

In addition to announcing its next target, Allied Progress also released a damning new report today demonstrating how the payday lending industry bought Florida’s political establishment. According to analysis of state and federal campaign finance data, the payday, title, and short-term lending industry has contributed at least $2,556,457 to Florida candidates and political parties since 2009. More than one-third of this money ($970,050) came from members of the Florida-based MacKechnie family and their payday lending company, Amscot Financial, which plead guilty to civil racketeering charges in 1998.

“Why on earth would nearly all of Florida’s political establishment come out swinging in defense of payday lenders – an industry almost universally despised by the public? Why would members of Florida’s congressional delegation spend so much political capital championing the disastrous ‘Florida model’ of payday lending,” asked Frisch. “This report confirms what many have long suspected: Florida’s political establishment from the state legislature to Congress, from statewide elected officials to the state political parties, is awash in millions of dollars in campaign cash from predatory payday lenders.”

Additional Background

In March, Allied Progress launched the “Debt Trap Debbie” campaign with a television ad in Wasserman Schultz’s South Florida district and an online petition at calling on her to “stop sabotaging President Obama’s hard work to hold payday lenders accountable.” Wasserman Schultz has received more than $68,000 in contributions from the industry while in Congress and is a co-sponsor of a bill that would delay protections for borrowers while paving the way for payday lenders to continue preying on vulnerable Americans. In April, Allied Progress sponsored two billboards in Wasserman Schultz’s district and a mobile billboard in the nation’s capital. She has been aggressively challenged on her payday lending stance in local and national media subsequent to the campaign’s launch.

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