New Report: Payday Lenders Spend Big to Influence Missouri Politicians
On Thursday, Public Campaign released a new report on the payday lending industry in Missouri and how the companies, executives, and their lobbyists were using campaign cash to influence the state legislature.
It’s a real David and Goliath battle between payday lenders and the low-income communities hardest hit by the cycle of debt these high-interest loans create. And as Public Campaign's Nick Nyhart says, it's a perfect example of our broken political system, "Just as payday lenders trap working class Missourians in a cycle of debt, these same lenders trap lawmakers in a cycle of influence—getting campaign cash to get elected and then getting rewarded for a job well done. It’s another example of how our political system is increasingly tilted toward the wealthy at the expense of everyday people.”
Here are key facts from our report:
- The payday lending industry has spent more than $1 million over the last decade to influence Missouri state elections. Lobbyists and lobbying firms working for the industry have given at least another $648,460 to state campaigns.
- Campaign spending by the industry hit a decade high in the 2010 cycle, with at least $371,483 in contributions to Missouri politicians, four times more than in the beginning of the decade.
- QC Holdings is the biggest campaign donor in the industry, spending at least $343,362 between the 2000 and 2010 cycles. QC Holdings operates the most payday stores in the state and receives more of its national gross profit from Missouri residents than any other state.
- The top recipient of payday industry campaign money has been the industry’s champion for keeping interest rates high. State Rep. Steven Tilley (R-106), the current House Speaker, received $40,375 between the 2000 and 2010 cycles and at least another $32,150 in 2011.
- In 2011, the Missouri House passed a bill that benefitted the payday industry by “capping” annual interest rates at 1,565 percent (HB 656), a hundred times higher than many credit cards. Members who voted for this pro-industry bill received nearly three times more payday money on average and nearly five times more altogether than members who voted in opposition.
Just as we released the report yesterday, Goliath got even bigger. The front group for payday lenders opposing a ballot iniatitive that would cap interest rates announced an additional $210,000 in spending.