Columbus, Ohio political hack Joyce Beatty-- along with her bagman lobbyist husband-- made her career courtesy of the payday lending industry. She just could not wait to get to Congress and onto the House Financial Services Committee. She is hardly alone in getting on that committee and filling her coffers with conveniently legalistic bribes from the payday lenders. This week, Open Secrets took a look at the current big bribe takers, a list which no longer include notorious crooks like Beatty and Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who were shamed by primary opponents into backing off from their close relationships with the payday lending industry.
"Members of Congress," wrote Bill Gavin, "currently on the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee and the House Committee on Financial Services collectively received over $3.4 million from the payday lending industry during their time in Congress, according to OpenSecrets data. Of the 78 senators and representatives on the committees, just 11 received no contributions from payday lending members or affiliates. Both committees are tasked with regulating the payday lending industry, and are considering legislation to do just that."
So far this year, these are the members of Congress who have taken the most from various and sundry payday lenders. The flood of money usually comes closer to election day.
San Fernando Valley progressive Shervin Aazami is running for the congressional seat swamp creature Brad Sherman represents. This morning he told me that "This cycle, Rep. Brad Sherman ranks fifth among Democrats and Republicans for total donations from the exploitative payday lending industry. Taking any kind of corporate bribe is unacceptable, but it is especially vile to be one of the top recipients of contributions from payday lenders. Since the Recession brought widespread closure of banks predominately in low-income neighborhoods and communities of color, payday lenders have swooped in to fill the void. These lenders intentionally target poorer communities for their exploitative high-interest loans that have rates as high as 400%. Black Americans constitute 23% of all payday lender loan recipients, despite being 13% of the population. These lenders perpetuate poverty in Black communities, yet Brad Sherman is on the record literally promoting payday lending. It's just another scathing example of who Rep. Sherman is actually fighting for."
These were the worst crooks last cycle, every single one of them not just corrupt, but also conservative. Not one honest member, not one progressive member on this list of criminals:
And since 1990, the members still serving in Congress who have taken the most? This is a list of the worst of the career criminals:
Richard Shelby (R-AL)- $254,050
Pete Sessions (R-TX)- $229,999
Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO)- $227,400
Patrick McHenry (R-NC)- $178,399
Gregory Meeks (New Dem-NY)- $177,850
Mike Crapo (R-ID)- $162,150
Kevin McCarthy (R-CA)- $161,175
Carolyn Maloney (D-NY)- $160,600
Mitch McConnell (R-KY)- 158,551
Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ)- $150,200 (the fastest rate of bribe taking in Congress)
David Scott (Blue Dog-GA)- $134,830
Henry Cuellar (Blue Dog-TX)- $130,500
The "reform" Congress is considering would cap interest rates at 36%, which seems somewhere between double and triple what it should be. And, mind you, that's the reform! Payday lenders and their congressional "allies" ("whores" would be a more accurate description) are fighting it.
In addition to pouring money into political contributions, the payday lending industry spent $4.2 million on lobbying in 2021, the highest it’s spent since 2017. In 2021, at least five companies and trade groups in the payday lending industry hired lobbyists for services that included lobbying on S.J. Resolution 15-- a bill to overturn a Trump-era rule that made it easier for non-bank lenders to issue loans through partnerships with national banks, according to Lobbying Disclosure Act filings.
In October 2020, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency issued a “true lender” rule, which let non-bank lenders avoid state interest rate caps through partnerships with lenders. The Congressional Review Act was passed by the Senate in May 2021, and the House in June 2021, overturning the true lender rule.