Report Reveals Suspiciously Timed Contributions from Payday Lenders to Key Members of Congress

Allied Progress Report Details How Twelve Members of Congress Were Showered with Thousands of Dollars in Campaign Cash by Payday Lenders Within Days of Taking Official Actions to Benefit the Industry

Read The Full Report Here: AlliedProgress.org/CheaperByTheDozen


20150930-AP-Cheaper-Action-ButtonWASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Allied Progress – an organization that seeks to hold powerful special interests accountable and empower hardworking Americans – released a special report detailing how 12 Members of the U.S. House of Representatives were showered with tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from payday lenders within days of taking official actions to benefit the industry. Taken as a whole, the timing of these contributions raises the serious question of whether they were made as a quid pro quo for official action.

“With a business model that traps millions of hardworking Americans in seemingly endless cycles of debt each year, it is hardly surprising that polls show payday lenders are almost universally despised. What is surprising – even bizarre – is seeing certain Members of Congress tripping all over themselves to help such an unpopular industry,” said Karl Frisch, executive director of Allied Progress. “Tens of thousands dollars in suspiciously timed campaign contributions that coincide with official actions by these Representatives to benefit the payday lending industry casts a shadow of serious impropriety.”

Research from The PEW Charitable Trusts found Americans favor more regulation of the payday lending industry by a margin of 3-to-1. That, along with the impact these financial products have on borrowers, may explain why the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) stepped forward earlier this year with a proposed framework for regulating payday loans that will provide consumers with a baseline of nationwide protections.

Coincidentally, the House Financial Services Committee is today considering legislation (HR 1266) that would weaken the CFPB by placing it under the authority of a multi-member commission rather than a single director as it is currently structured. When a similar bill was proposed in 2011, experts said such a move would push the CFPB into “gridlock and inaction.” As documented in the report released today by Allied Progress, several Members of Congress accepted thousands of dollars in campaign contributions within days of signing on to sponsor or co-sponsor the 2011 legislation.

“This industry wields tremendous power not only over those it is able to ensnare with its risky financial products, but also over the levers of power in Washington,” continued Frisch. “These Members of Congress should do the right thing and donate this questionable campaign cash to a deserving charitable organization that helps hardworking Americans struggling with debt or credit issues.”

Key Findings from the Report:

  • On March 26, 2015, Rep. Pete Sessions of Texas signed on to co-sponsor HR 1266 – a new version of 2011’s HR 1121, which experts said would hobble the CFPB. The very next day he received a $2,700 campaign contribution from a payday lending industry PAC. [Congress.gov, HR 1121Congress.gov, HR 1266Sessions FEC Filing]
  • On July 18, 2012, Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer of Missouri introduced HR 6139 – legislation that experts said would undermine oversight of payday lenders by allowing them to bypass the regulatory authority of the CFPB and stronger state laws. The day before, Luetkemeyer refunded a $2,500 campaign contribution to the PAC of the payday lending industry’s special interest trade group – Community Financial Services Association of America (CFSA). Exactly two months later he received a contribution from the CFSA for double the original amount. [Congress.gov, HR 6139Luetkemeyer FEC Filing]
  • Rep. Stephen Fincher of Tennessee received $5,000 in campaign contributions from payday lending industry executives just days before and a $2,500 campaign contribution from another industry executive soon after signing on to co-sponsor Luetkemeyer’s HR 6139. On April 15, 2013, Rep. Gregory Meeks of New York signed on to co-sponsor HR 1566 – legislation with the same title and purpose as HR 6139. Just four days later, he received a $5,000 campaign contribution from a payday lending industry PAC. [Congress.gov, HR 6139Fincher FEC FilingMeeks FEC Filing]

For the purposes of this report, Allied Progress examined the twelve members of the U.S. House of Representatives who have received at least $25,000 in campaign contributions since 2011 and have also taken official action in support of payday lenders within ten weeks of receiving industry campaign contributions.

Read The Full Report Here: AlliedProgress.org/CheaperByTheDozen

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