Payday lenders gave $15M to GOP campaigns in 2014 races: report

Payday lenders gave $15M to GOP campaigns in 2014 races: report

Payday lenders spent more than $15 million trying to influence top Republicans ahead of the 2014 congressional elections, according to a new report.

The report from left-leaning Americans for Financial Reform released Tuesday shines a spotlight on ties between the GOP and the controversial payday lending industry.

“Payday loans lead to a cascade of consequences, such as increased overdraft fees, delinquency on other bills, forced bank account closures, and even bankruptcy,” said Gynnie Robnett, payday campaign director at Americans for Financial Reform. “Yet the lenders show here they have no problem using the money they make off cash-strapped consumers to curry favor in Washington, DC."

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The National Republican Congressional Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee received a combined total of nearly $300,000.

Rep. Jeb HensarlingThomas (Jeb) Jeb HensarlingHas Congress lost the ability or the will to pass a unanimous bipartisan small business bill? Maxine Waters is the Wall Street sheriff the people deserve Ex-GOP congressman heads to investment bank MORE (R-Texas), chairman of the Financial Services Committee, which oversees payday lenders, led congressional recipients by collecting $210,500 from the industry.

Payday lending has been the subject of controversy, as lawmakers and regulators grapple with how to deal with the industry.

Critics say the short-term loans target cash-strapped consumers and charge them exorbitant fees if they can't repay, dragging them into endless cycles of debt.

Many Democrats and consumer advocates complain that payday lenders prey on desperate borrowers, but Republicans say they provide low-income people with access to much-needed cash they otherwise would not qualify for at a traditional bank.

According to the report, payday and other types of predatory lending companies spent more than $15 million trying to influence lawmakers during the 2013-14 election cycle, including $11 million in lobbying and $4 million in campaign contributions.

The biggest spenders included the Online Lenders Alliance ($2.1 million), Cash America International ($1.8 million), Community Financial Services Association ($1.7 million), American Financial Services Association ($1.3 million) and JLL Partners ($1 million).

These included not only payday lenders, but also other types of lenders that the report considered "predatory."

Republicans were the biggest recipients of campaign contributions from payday lenders.

Rounding out the top 10 congressional recipients, Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) received $105,300; Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) received $95,600; Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-Kan.) received $85,757; Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Ohio) received $80,700; Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas) received $76,630; Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Mo.) received $75,350; Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) received $62,800; and Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) received $57,870.

The report noted that some of the donations mentioned above may have been given to independent political committees supporting these candidates, rather than directly to the candidates' campaigns.