With election day, May 8, approaching fast, Cecil Bothwell is bashing his main rival in the 11th Congressional District Democratic primary, Hayden Rogers, for taking campaign donations from the payday loan industry.
Bothwell and other critics of the industry say it profits from predatory lending that targets young and low-income workers.
The Bothwell campaign sent out a press release May 2 asserting that Rogers has accepted $17,500 in campaign donations from individuals, lobbyists and special-interest groups associated with the industry. While the donations are legal, Bothwell notes that the industry isn’t legally allowed to operate in North Carolina. And in the press release, Bothwell rhetorically asks the pointed question: “Why is a candidate from N.C. attracting and accepting so much money from an industry banned in N.C.?”
In contrast, Bothwell, who also serves on Asheville City Council, notes that his campaign “will accept no money from corporations or corporate PACs.” And in a television ad –— his first of the primary campaign — Bothwell looks directly in to the camera, declaring: “I won’t take one penny from corporations or their lobbyists because I believe you need a congressman who represents you — not the fat cats. My Washington-insider opponent has taken thousands of dollars from the payday loan industry, a form of predatory lending that’s been banned in North Carolina. Hayden Rogers represents everything that’s wrong in Washington, D.C.”
Watch the Bothwell ad here:
But Andrew Whalen, consultant to the Rogers campaign, brushes off the attacks, countering that Bothwell “has been angry and negative throughout the campaign.”
Whalen adds: “This is just the latest petty and desperate attempt at an attack from a candidate who knows he’s about to lose.”
Rogers, longtime chief of staff for incumbent Democratic 11th District Rep. Heath Shuler, raised just over $300,000 for the campaign, compared to Bothwell’s roughly $75,000. The Rogers campaign notes that nearly $200,000 of the total was contributed by individuals, with more than 55 percent given by donors who live in Western North Carolina.
Whalen also points out that Bothwell was issued a warning April 27 by the Federal Election Commission for failure to file a timely finance report. “For a campaign that likes to talk about transparency and openness, they should file their reports when required by law,” he asserts.
READ THE TEXT OF THE BOTHWELL CAMPAIGN’S PRESS RELEASE IN ITS ENTIRETY:
For immediate release: May 2, 2012
What: Payday lenders fund Rogers’ NC 11 campaign
From: Bothwell for Congress
The Bothwell for Congress campaign will accept no money from corporations or corporate PACs. Our campaign is entirely funded by individuals. (The committee donation listed on our campaign finance reports is Bothwell for Buncombe, funded by individuals for Bothwell’s local races in 2008 and 2009). Our opponent has taken tens of thousands of dollars from lobbyists and PACs. The most questionable sources are payday lenders.
Hayden Rogers has accepted $17,500 from individuals, lobbyists and special interest groups associated with the Payday Loan Industry. All of these donors are from outside of North Carolina, hailing from places such as Las Vegas, Miami, and South Carolina. They are all from out-of-state because North Carolina banned the Payday Loan Industry in 2001.
It took until 2006 to fully shut down the industry (which played a cat and mouse game exploiting loopholes, changing names, etc.). In a 2006 press release NC Attorney General Roy Cooper said: “We’ve fought payday lending at every turn and now we’re putting this industry out of business here in North Carolina. These payday lenders thought they’d found a way around North Carolina law. Now we’re showing them the way out of our state.”
With over 23,000 lending stores in the U.S. (more than Starbucks and McDonalds combined), payday loans represent a $59 billion a year industry. Its critics argue that it is a form of predatory lending that targets young and low-income workers. People in need of quick cash—usually a few hundred dollars—bring in their pay-stub, fill out paperwork and turn over a personal check post-dated two weeks later and written for the amount plus the “loan fee”. What many people don’t understand is that the fee is actually the annual interest rate. According to the North Carolina Department of Justice “payday loans may seem like a quick solution to a cash crunch, they’ll cost you a lot more in the long run. A payday loan of $100 to $500 can carry an annual interest rate of 390 to 780 percent. Payday loans are due in full on your next payday, typically in two weeks. If you aren’t able to repay the loan that fast, as most borrowers aren’t, you can get stuck on a debt treadmill. This happens when borrowers, unable to repay the loan, take out new loans or rollover the old one. You pay the fees on your loans over and over again, without ever being able to pay off the loan.”
New York, Georgia and 11 other states followed North Carolina and also banned them. Undeterred, the biggest players simply shifted operations and went online. Any attempt at meaningful Federal legislation from Congress was met with fierce lobbying efforts from groups such as the “Community Financial Services Association” and the “Online Lenders Alliance.” Both groups represent the payday loan industry.
To date, Rogers has taken corporate/PAC donations (which are reported separately from individual/personal donations) from:
Community Financial Services Association—Alexandria, VA—- $5,000
Advance America Cash Advance Centers, Inc.—Spartanburg, SC—$2,500. Advance America is the largest chain of payday lenders in the U.S.
Rogers also took donations from the following individuals:
Lindsay Webster—Owner, Advance America, Spartanburg, SC—$1,250
William Webster IV—Chairman and Director, Advance America, Spartanburg—$1,250
Vincent K. Ney—CEO of GECC, Bergheim, TX—$2,500——- Background on Ney: GECC are the initials of “Government Employees Credit Center, Inc.” is a Texas-based payday loan operator. Here’s a link to a press release from the West Virginia Attorney General: http://www.wvago.gov/press.cfm?ID=547&fx=more . The headline: AG McGraw sues GECC and Dollar Financial for $3.9 million for continuing to make illegal internet payday loans.
Mark E. Curry gave $2,500. FEC law requires candidate to report a donor’s name, address and occupation for anything above $50. Rogers reports Curry lives in Las Vegas, but for Curry’s occupation Roger’s states “Information Requested.” However, our research has found a Mark E. Curry in Vegas who owns a collection agency (Smith, Haynes and Watson, LLC) that works for several payday loan shops. In 2011 Curry and his collection agency were in litigation with the AG of Maryland. Link:http://docs.justia.com/cases/federal/district-courts/nevada/nvdce/2:2011cv00908/81459/6/ .Here is a story from a Baltimore paper with more:http://thedailyrecord.com/2010/11/22/collection-company-suspended/
Our research also shows that a Mark E. Curry was formerly the chairman of the Online Lenders Alliance.
Tim Rupli—“Executive” at T.R. Rupli & Associates, McClean VA—$1,000 ….. Rupli runs a boutique lobbying firm that apparently only represents one client: The Community Financial Services Association. According to U.S. Senate records from 2008 Rupli spent $230,000 lobbying on behalf of CFSA. . Link: http://soprweb.senate.gov/index.cfm?event=getFilingDetails&filingID=A087E88D-C384-40E5-844A-4CF543C476DD
Joshua S. Landy—$1,500—No employer listed—Miami FL ….. Watchdog groups that track campaign financing show he donates to a lot of campaigns across the country. Some of these candidates’ FEC reports list his occupation differently, but include: U.S. Money Shops, National Processing Centers, and “President” of ACA (American Cash Advance).
Why is a candidate from NC attracting and accepting so much money from an industry banned in NC?