Mysterious Figure Introduced Convicted Payday Predator to Tribal Leader for Lending Scheme
During Interview for Netflix Documentary “Dirty Money,” Chief of the Modoc Tribe of Oklahoma Let Slip That a “‘Representative from Kansas'” Reached Out to Him at Tucker’s Request
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Last week Netflix began streaming Dirty Money, a new documentary series by Alex Gibney. The second episode of the series focuses on the payday lending industry with ample time devoted to Scott Tucker, the predatory lender recently convicted on “14 criminal counts related to a $2 billion payday lending” scheme that attempted to use the sovereign immunity of American Indian Tribes to illegally evade state lending laws.
During the episode, Bill Follis, Chief of the Modoc Tribe of Oklahoma, was interviewed about the circumstances that led to his payday lending partnership with Tucker. Follis said that a “representative from Kansas” reached out because Tucker wanted to speak with him about “the loan business” and noted that this representative from Kansas “vouched for Scott.” You can see the video here.
It is unclear exactly who Chief Follis is referring to when he says a “representative from Kansas” introduced him to Tucker at Tucker’s request. It could be a tribal representative from Kansas, a Kansas state representative, a member of Congress representing Kansas, or someone else. What is clear is that payday lenders have long sought to influence Kansas lawmakers – especially members of its congressional delegation.
Members of Congress from Kansas who were in office when Tucker launched his payday lending scheme with American Indian Tribes in 2003 accepted more than $119,000 in campaign cash from the payday lending industry during their congressional careers:
- Rep. Jerry Moran (R-KS / 1997-2011) – During his congressional career, Moran has accepted at least $25,000 from the payday lending industry. [Search for Payday Lender Contributions to Members of the House, OpenSecrets.org, accessed 01/31/18]
- Rep. Jim Ryun (R-KS / 1997-2007) During his congressional career, Ryun accepted at least $3,000 from the payday lending industry. [Search for Payday Lender Contributions to Members of the House, OpenSecrets.org, accessed 01/31/18]
- Rep. Dennis Moore (D-KS / 1999-2011) – During his congressional career, Moore accepted at least $65,019 from the payday lending industry. [Search for Payday Lender Contributions to Members of the House, OpenSecrets.org, accessed 01/31/18]
- Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-KS / 1995-2011) – During his congressional career, Tiahrt accepted at least $26,500 from the payday lending industry. [Search for Payday Lenders Contributions to Members of the House, OpenSecrets.org, accessed 01/31/18]
Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-KS), who has taken more money from payday lenders than any other member of Congress, was a state “representative from Kansas” in 2003 when Tucker launched his payday lending scheme with American Indian Tribes.
- Yoder has taken at least $313,009 from the payday lending industry during his congressional career — more than any other member of Congress. [Search for Payday Lender Contributions to Members of the House, OpenSecrets.org, accessed 01/31/18]
- As a state representative from Kansas, Yoder took at least $2100 from payday lending industry political action committees (PACs). [Search for Payday/Title Loan Contributions to Kevin Yoder for 2004, 2006, and 2008 cycles, FollowTheMoney.org, accessed 01/31/18]
- Modoc Chief Says a “‘Representative from Kansas'” Connected Him with Scott Tucker at Tucker’s Request. Bill Follis, Chief of the Modoc Tribe of Oklahoma, was interviewed about the circumstances that led to his payday lending partnership with Scott Tucker. Follis said that a “‘representative from Kansas'” reached out because Tucker wanted to speak to Follis about “‘the loan business’” and noted that the representative from Kansas “‘vouched for Scott so that’s good enough for me.'” [“Payday“, Dirty Money, accessed 01/30/18 (26:09)]
- Tucker Was Recently Convicted on 14 Criminal Counts “Related to a $2 Billion Payday Lending” Scheme That Attempted to use the Sovereign Immunity of American Indian Tribes to Illegally Evade State Lending Laws. He Was Sentenced to Nearly 17 Years in Prison. Tucker was a businessman and “professional race car driver” from Leawood, Kansas “who built a financial empire through an illegal payday loan enterprise.” He was convicted on 14 criminal counts “related to a $2 billion payday lending enterprise that federal prosecutors said exploited 4.5 million consumers” and he “received a 16-year, 8-month prison sentence” for his crimes. [Steve Vockrodt, “Payday lender Scott Tucker gets 16 years, 8 months in prison for $2 billion ripoff scheme,” Kansas City Star, 01/05/18]
- Tucker Was Previously Accused of “Operating Unlicensed Payday Loan Businesses in Kansas” Which Ultimately Led Him to Form Partnerships with Native American Tribes in an Attempt to Avoid State Laws. The State of Kansas, in 2003, accused Scott Tucker of “operating unlicensed payday loan businesses in Kansas and of issuing usurious loans to Kansas customers in violation of the state’s usury laws.” It was only after this happened that Tucker formed business partnerships with Native American Tribes so that he could claim that “‘tribal sovereign immunity’ prevented states and private citizens from taking any action against” Tucker or his businesses. The lawsuits in Kansas, Colorado, and California were subsequently dismissed “on ‘tribal sovereign immunity grounds.” [Indictment, United States of America v. Scott Tucker and Timothy Muir, case no. 1:16-cr-00091-PKC, 02/08/16]
- Tribes Typically Received 1% of the Revenue from Their Arrangements with Tucker. “Beginning in 2003” Scott Tucker “entered into agreements with several Native American Tribes” that included the Modoc Tribe of Oklahoma. As part of the agreement, the tribes would claim ownership of Tucker’s businesses, so that Tucker could use their tribal immunity to shield his businesses from compliance with state law. In return, the tribes received “typically one percent of the revenues from the portion of Tucker’s…business that the Tribes purported to own.” The business Tucker had with the Modoc was called “500 Fast Cash.” [Press Release, United States Department of Justice, 01/05/18; Dave Helling, “Campaign cash from payday loan industry under scrutiny in Missouri, Kansas races,” Kansas City Star, 11/01/16]
- Years Before Creating His Payday Lending Scheme Using American Indian Tribes to Skirt State Laws, Tucker Was Convicted of a Felony Related to Other Financial Matters. Scott Tucker was a felon prior to his most recent conviction. In his “late 20s” he pled guilty to a crime that involved charging fees for his help in procuring loans for his clients. [Scott Tucker letter to Judge P. Kevin Castel, 12/20/17]
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