Missouri Payday Loan Initiative Dropped

Missouri flag as dollars
Missourians for Responsible Lending and Give Missourian’s a Raise have announced that they are ending a legal challenge to a ruling that argued they did not have enough signatures for an initiative that would regulate payday loans and raise the state’s minimum wage.

In August, Robin Carnahan, the Secretary of State, told the two groups that they had failed to gather enough signatures for the November ballot. The two groups filed suit to challenge the Secretary of State’s ruling, countering that the courts did not properly count a large amount of signatures they gathered.

The payday loan initiative sought to place a 36 percent cap on interest rates and fees for payday loans in Missouri.

“We are sad to report that the payday industry and minimum wage opponents’ unprecedented legal challenges effectively disenfranchised thousands of Missourians. It is another example of big monied corporate interests displacing the people’s interests in the democratic process,” said the Rev. Martin Rafanan, a leader in the initiative.

A Kansas City-based nonprofit group founded by communications consultant Patrick Tuoey called Missourians for Responsible Government funded $2.3 million into a political committee called Missourians for Equal Credit Opportunity which opposed the restrictive payday loan measure. Missourians for Equal Credit Opportunity also pushed legal opposition that distracted the initiatives in court for over a year. Missourians for Responsible Government is not required to disclose its donors due to protections for nonprofit organizations.

Additionally, QC Holdings, the mother company of Quik Cash, a payday lender, informed the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that it had spent “substantial amounts opposing the efforts to place this initiative on the ballot” this year.

According to the Missouri Ethics Commission, Missourians for Responsible Government and QC Holdings spent a combined $600,000 on their campaigns.

“Since beginning this campaign more than a year ago, we have faced an opposition unrestrained by money, morality, truth or concern for the economic dignity of our neighbors and family members,” said Reverend James Bryan of the Missourians for Responsible Lending.

Rev. Bryan said that supporters of the initiative faced harassment, dishonest ad campaigns, fake petitions, and legal obstacles.