New Report: Payday Lenders Spend Big Bucks to Buy Influence With Missouri Politicians
Washington, D.C.—Payday lenders and their lobbyists have given more than $1.6 million on campaign contributions to Missouri lawmakers over the past decade, successfully maintaining a sky-high 1,500 percent interest rate on loans that traps consumers in a cycle of debt, according to a new report released today by national campaign finance watchdog Public Campaign.
The report, “Indebted: How Payday Lenders Buy Political Influence in Missouri and Hurt Everyday People” looks at the money donated by payday lenders, their lobbyists, and the impact these laws have on working Missourians struggling in our economy. The report comes as voters consider a ballot initiative to cap interest rates, something the industry has been fighting in the legislature.
“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,” said Nick Nyhart, president and CEO of Public Campaign. “It’s another example of how our political system is increasingly tilted toward the wealthy at the expense of everyday people.”
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
The full report is available online at http://www.publicampaign.org/reports/indebted.
Public Campaign is a national nonpartisan organization that fights to raise the voices of everyday people in our democracy through changing our campaign finance laws and through holding elected. Learn more at www.publicampaign.org.