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The Payday Loan Industry’s Campaign Contributions

Giving a bribe
During the infancy of President Obama’s current term, he called for federal regulation to instate a cap on all payday loan interest rates. Obama has sought to restrict the steep—often argued to be usurious—fees on payday loans since his time in the Illinois State Senate. While such a law has yet to be implemented on the federal level, the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has helped the nation take one step further towards meeting the president’s goal.

As support for federal oversight of payday loans gains momentum, the short-term financing industry has been caught reaching its hands into their pockets and handing money over to our representatives. Ambassadors from the payday loan business have been stationing themselves in Capitol Hill, begging willing politicians to accept their money.

While not specifically pleading for protection—that would be bribery—lobbyists are handing over substantial sums of money to politicians, most likely under the guise of a wink.

Many might expect that Republicans benefit most from payday lobbyists, given the fact that Republicans are often associated with bankers, but surprisingly, over the past few election cycles, payday loan lobbyists have favored representatives from the Democratic Party.

Here is an analysis the payday loan industry’s campaign contributions over the last two election cycles. Pay special attention to the affiliation each recipient has with the industry or a notable position of power that could affect the industry.

In 2008, the top recipients of campaign contributions from payday loan lobbyists were:

  Politician Party/State Notable Affiliations Amount Received
1. Tim Johnson D-SD The then Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Financial Investigations $47,400
2. Dennis Moore D-KS Represented the district in which QC Holdings, a major payday loan company, is headquartered $34,419
3. Carolyn Maloney D-NY Former chair of the House Subcommittee on Financial Institutions $30,750
4. Richard Shelby R-AL The then ranking member of the Senate Banking Committee $25,560
5. Jeff Sessions R-AL Poised to become a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which he later became in 2009  $25,150
6. Kendrick Meek D-FL Historically stood against the payday loan industry by proposing interest rate caps $23,650
7. Chris Dodd D-CT The then Chair of the Senate Banking Committee $22,900
8. Spencer Bachus R-AL The then ranking member on the House Financial Services Committee $22,500
9. Jeb Hensarling  R-TX Member of the House Financial Services Committee $20,000
10. Mitch McConnell R-KY The Senate Minority Leader $18,600
Contribution information attributed to CREW's Payday Lender$ Pay Up, 2009.
In 2010, payday loan lobbyists upped their payroll, giving contributions to the following top recipients:

  Politician Party/State Notable Affiliations Amount Received
1.

Kendrick Meek D-FL Soared to the top of the industry's contribution list after historically supporting payday loan interest rate caps  $53,900
2. Carolyn Maloney D-NY Ranking member and former Chair of the House Subcommittee on Financial Institutions $48,400
3. Harry Reid D-NV Senate Majority Leader $43,900
4. Jeb Hensarling R-TX Vice Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee $37,100
5. Kevin Yoder R-KS Represented the district where QC Holding’s headquarters were located $34,450
6. Debbie Wasserman Schultz D-FL Chairman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) $27,500
7. Heath Schuler D-NC Proponent of H.R. 2563, also called the Payday Lending Reform Act of 2009 $26,000
8. Pete Sessions R-TX Chairman for the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) $24,900
9. Travis Childers D-MS Member of the House Financial Services Committee $24,500
10. Gregory Meeks D-NY Member of the House Financial Services Committee $22,500
Contribution information attributed to CREW's 2011 Update, Payday Lender$ Pay Up.