EXPOSED: Face of New Payday Front Group Once Backed Reform, Then Lenders Started Giving Him Money

The New Pro-Payday Lending Industry Front Group “Floridians for Financial Choice” Is Using Former Rep. Kendrick Meek As Its Public Face, Calling Him a “Champion of Florida Payday Loan Regulations.” [Floridians for Financial Choice, Website Accessed 5/13/16]

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Meek Wanted Stronger Protections Against Payday Lenders Than the “Florida Model” Provides — Until the Industry Showered Him with Campaign Cash

Kendrick Meek Has Repeatedly Called on the CFPB to Use the Florida Payday Lending Law as a Model, Saying It Is “Effective” and “Working”…

…Which Is Strange, Since Meek Tried to Strengthen the Florida Payday Lending Law While in the State Legislature with a 30% Rate Cap and Allowing Localities to Pass Tougher Laws

  • Meek Sponsored a Bill That Would Have Allowed Local Governments to Pass Tighter Restrictions On Payday Lenders Than the Florida Payday Lending Legislation. “A bill now on the Senate calendar essentially combines Sublette’s bill and Starks’ idea. But two bills in the Senate, and another in the House, remain in committee, as consumer advocates and industry representatives work to find a compromise. Those proposals cap fees at 10 percent of the face value of the check, prohibit rollovers, and force lenders to hold a check for a total of 60 days before trying to recover the money from a customer. One version, sponsored by Sen. Kendrick Meek, D-Miami, also would allow local governments to pass tighter restrictions on payday lenders, a provision industry representatives have said they can’t live with.” [Orlando Sentinel, “Title-loan Pain Likely To Lessen,” 4/19/00]
  • Meek Sponsored a Bill That Would Cap Payday Loan Interest Rates at 30%. “Today the Senate Committee on Governmental Oversight and Productivity — chaired by Senate Majority Leader Jack Latvala — will discuss two bills. One, by Sen. Kendrick Meek, would prohibit payday-advancers from charging any more than 30 percent a year.” [Orlando Sentinel, “Consumers Rate with Senate,” 4/12/00]
  • Meeks Bill Would Have Capped Interest Rates at 30% On Payday Loans. “We have loan-sharking taking place, preying on our less-fortunate citizens,” Rep. Bob Starks, R-Casselberry, told a Friday press conference called in support of House Bill 661. Starks’ bill and its companion – Senate Bill 2278 by Sen. Kendrick Meek, D-Miami – would cap interest at an annual rate of 30 percent and would prohibit the “loan rollovers” critics say mire borrowers ever deeper in debt. [Miami Herald, “Payday-Loan Industry Under Legislative Fire,” 3/25/00]

There Are 119,000 Reasons for His Change of Heart

Even Though He Hasn’t Been in Office for More Than Half a Decade, Kendrick Meek Has Still Taken More Money from Payday Lenders ($119,150) Than Any of Florida’s Other Members of Congress

…and Over $100,000 of That Payday Cash Was Between 2007-2010, Which Happened to Coincide with Meek’s Congressional Advocacy on Behalf of Payday Lenders 

  • In 2007, Meek Wrote a Letter to The House Financial Services Committee Advocating Overhauling the Military Payday Rate Cap by Proposing a Plan to Leave Payday Loans with High Fees and Interest Rates Unregulated by Federal Law. The Air Force Times Characterized Meek’s Letter as Using “The Argument the Payday Loan Industry Made” Against The Military Payday Lending Rate Cap. “A loose coalition of military and consumer groups has sounded an alarm over what they perceive as a threat to the 36 percent interest rate cap due to take effect in October for loans to service members and their immediate families. But it is uncertain whether they have anything to worry about. Their concern is based on a Jan. 24 letter to the House Financial Services Committee from two Democrats, Reps. Kendrick Meek of Florida and Mike Ross of Arkansas, who are asking for an overhaul of the payday loan industry that could involve repealing the military-only interest and fee cap passed by Congress last year. The Meek-Ross letter does not specifically mention the military rules, which were contained in the 2007 Defense Authorization Act and are due to take effect Oct. 1. But their proposed policy would leave payday loans with high fees and interest rates unlimited by federal law. Their letter proposes allowing the payday loan industry to work on industrywide standards for short-term, unsecured loans and to have states, rather than the federal government, be responsible for regulating the industry. This is the argument the payday loan industry made last year when it tried, and failed, to talk Congress out of imposing a military-only interest cap.” [Air Force Times, “Lawmakers Propose Changes to Payday Loan Fee Cap,” 2/19/07]
  • In 2009, Meek Cosponsored HR 1214, The Payday Loan Reform Act, Which Consumer Advocates Opposed Saying It “Provides Congressional Approval to Payday Loans at Rates of 390 Percent APR for Two Weeks or 780 Percent APR for One Week. “Dear Representative, We the undersigned consumer, community and civil rights groups urge you not to co-sponsor or support H.R. 1214, the “Payday Loan Reform Act of 2009.” Although this bill shares the same title as H.R. 2871 in the last Congress, it will have the exact opposite impact on consumers. Last session’s bill placed severe limits on unfair payday loans; H.R. 1214, by contrast, essentially condones the predatory payday loan business model and will stall or stop the significant progress that has been made at the state level to curb usurious lending. H.R. 1214 provides Congressional approval to payday loans at rates of 390 percent APR for two weeks or 780 percent APR for one week. The loan cap of fifteen cents per dollar loaned in HR 1214 authorizes lenders to charge $60 for a typical $400 loan, which is due in one pay cycle. This means that, for the typical borrower with nine loans per year, H.R. 1214 authorizes lenders to collect $540 in finance charges for a $400 loan taken out over an 18-week period.” [gov, HR 1214, 3/8/09; Letter From Consumer Groups, 3/29/09]

With Meek’s History of Pay-to-Play Politics, This Is Not a Particularly Shocking Development

  • Meek Arranged Meetings Between Democratic Leaders and Cigar Makers About a Cigar Tax Increase After a Cigar Maker Hosted a High-Dollar Fundraiser for Him. “[Meek] helped arrange meetings between House Democratic leaders and cigar makers upset about a plan in 2008 legislation to pay for an expansion of children’s health insurance by increasing cigar taxes. The Miami Herald reported that one Florida cigar maker, Jorge Padron, hosted a $1,000 per person fundraiser for Meek in December 2007.” [CQ Member Profile, 3/14/09]
  • Meek Sought $4 Million in Funds for A Biotech Park That Had Paid His Mother for Consulting Work. “The Herald also revealed Meek sought $4 million in federal funds in 2007 for a developer of a Florida biotech park who had paid his mother $40,000 for consulting work. After allegations that money was misspent on the project, Meek later that year publicly called for Miami-Dade County not to rely on federal funds.” [CQ Member Profile, 3/14/09]
  • Meek’s Mother Had Been Paid $90,000 By The Developer and Was Also Leased a Cadillac; The Developer Never Built the Project and Was Charged with Stealing $1 Million in Public and Private Loans. “U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek,the leading Democratic contender for Florida’s open U.S. Senate seat, told The Miami Herald editorial board today that he knew his mother was helping developer Dennis Stackhouse try to build a bio-pharmaceutical park in Liberty City — but not that she was a paid consultant. Meek sought federal funds for the project and said he never knew Stackhouse had paid $90,000 to his mother, former Congresswoman Carrie Meek, and leased her a Cadillac Escalade. Stackhouse never built the project and is charged with stealing $1 million in public and private loans.” [Miami Herald, “Meek Says Developer Scandal Taught Him a Lesson,” 7/2/10]
  • Meek Spent Nine Years Selling Security Contracts for A Company That Overbilled Miami-Dade County by Millions; Meek’s Wife and Mother Were Also Employed as Lobbyists by The Company and The Company’s PAC Donated the Maximum to Meek’s Campaign. “Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Kendrick Meek is proud of his resume: state trooper, state legislator, member of Congress. But there’s one job always left out of stump speeches and campaign ads: his nine-year stint selling security contracts for Wackenhut Corp., which also employed his wife and mother as lobbyists. The reason Meek would not highlight his ties to Wackenhut are obvious. The Palm Beach Gardens-based corporation was accused of overbilling Miami-Dade County for security at transit stations and agreed to a $7.5 million settlement earlier this year. Meek’s chief rival in the Democratic primary, Jeff Greene, has pointed to Meek’s work for Wackenhut as a prime example of the “pay-to-play” culture in politics. Wackenhut’s political arm gave Meek the maximum campaign donation allowed under the law — $5,000 for the primary and another $5,000 for the general election.” [Tampa Bay Times, “The Job Kendrick Meek Doesn’t Tout in His Record — The Years With Wackenhut Corp.,” 8/9/10]

Meek Now Runs His Own “Consulting” Firm, Though His Clients Are Not Known

Hmm… We Wonder Who He’s Working For?

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