Andy Barr Working Hard to Protect Debt Collection Agencies, Too

First it was Too Big To Fail banks, then it was predatory lenders, now it’s debt collection agencies.

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Is there anyone Andy Barr is not working for? (Hint: the people of Kentucky.)

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Yesterday, the Federal Communications Commission posted this October 10th letter to Andy Barr on their website:

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The letter concerns a longstanding and ongoing effort by the industry trade group that represents America’s debt collectors to make it easier for them to harass hard working Americans — a third of whom have debts in collection (it’s even higher in Kebtucky but we’ll get to that).

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They want to have easier access to you — and Andy Barr is helping them get it. The letter concerns a prohibition that hinders the ability of debt collection agencies to call your cell phone. The use of an autodialing system has been targeted by consumer protection advocates as a way of striking back at debt collectors whose tactics are often heavy-handed, and in many cases against the law. Most people in debt don’t know their rights and in most cases, the debt collectors violating those rights get away with their violations because consumers don’t realize they’re being violated. As Andy Barr is arguing, it would be easier for debt collectors if the rights you didn’t know were being violated weren’t actually rights at all.

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Andy Barr’s argument is this: If the laws were written to protect debt collectors instead of American citizens, then American citizens would have no protection from predatory debt collectors.

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As the Herald Leader has reported at length, Andy Barr is already provably in the pocket of the Predatory Payday Loan industry.

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These predatory loan sharks have given Andy Barr tens of thousands of dollars and Andy Barr is pushing for de-regulation to protect their predatory practices.

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Predatory lenders have a business model that explicitly creates a cycle of debt. You borrow money from them… then you borrow more to pay off the first loan… and you borrow more to pay off the loan you borrowed to pay off the previous loan… and so forth.

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This cycle of debt is then subject to collection. As with credit cards, student loans and all manner of other debt regular working Americans accrue in their efforts to just barely squeak by week-to-week and paycheck-to-paycheck while still feeding themselves and their children, this debt is then subject to overbearing collection agencies.

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And as the letter above demonstrates, Andy Barr is working to protect those collection agencies and their ability to harass regular working Americans — to the point of against-the-law activities… which, again, wouldn’t be against the law if Andy Barr had his way.

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Andy Barr represents debt collectors… not the people of Kentucky’s 6th District — who, it’s worth noting, are heavily in debt.



A report from the Urban Institute released this past July found that 1 in 3 Americans with a credit file has a debt in collections:

Roughly 77 million Americans, or 35 percent of adults with a credit file, have a report of debt in collections. These adults owe an average of $5,178 (median $1,349). Debt in collections involves a nonmortgage bill—such as a credit card balance, medical or utility bill—that is more than 180 days past due and has been placed in collections. 5.3 percent of people with a credit file have a report of past due debt, indicating they are between 30 and 180 days late on a nonmortgage payment. Both debt in collections and debt past due are concentrated in the South.

The Urban Institutes findings show that 42% of people in Kentucky have a debt in collections and that those Kentuckians have an average debt in collections of $4,420.

The Association of Credit and Collections Professionals represents an industry that operates under the purview of the House Financial Services Committee — on which Andy Barr sits. The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Law, which Andy Barr has dedicated his first two years in office to over-turning and undermining, seeks to protect consumers from predatory lenders and predatory collection agencies.

And here’s why the Debt Collectors and the Predatory Payday Lenders are paying protection money to Andy Barr. He represents them, not the people of Kentucky:

U.S. Regulator Cites Problems Among Payday Lenders, Debt Collectors
Wall Street Journal / May 22, 2104
Consumer Finance Protection Board Has Privately Reprimanded Some Short-Term Lenders

The U.S. consumer finance regulator says it has privately reprimanded several short-term lenders for making abusive calls to consumers, improperly disclosing personal information and making false threats.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said in a report Thursday its examiners have found numerous instances in which short-term “payday” lenders and debt collectors have been breaking federal consumer-protection laws.

The CFPB report, which didn’t single out companies by name, could foreshadow future action by the agency. The CFPB’s examiners typically alert companies to their concerns and privately direct them to fix problems. For more severe violations, the regulator can open an investigation that may lead to public sanctions and fines.

The report provides the first detailed look at the regulator’s behind-the-scenes activities in supervising key players in the non-bank financial industry. Such companies had not been scrutinized at the federal level before the CFPB’s creation nearly three years ago.

Andy Barr’s ‘Horse Torture’ Money


As we saw last week, predatory payday lenders give money to Andy Barr and Andy Barr uses his office to protect them.

And as we saw a month ago, when the Too Big To Fail failures give Andy Barr money… Andy Bar uses his office to protect them.

It’s no surprise then that when it comes to the Tennessee Walking Horse lobby, when they give Andy Barr money, Andy Barr uses his office to protect them.

The Tennessee Walking Horse folks have come under signficant scrutiny because their method of forcing horses to walk funny — by using acid and chains — has been widely decried as “torture” and is the subject of bills in both the House and the Senate to put a stop to the cruel and unusual treatment of these horses.

While those bills in the House and the Senate enjoy a level of bipartisan support little else in this Do Nothing Congress has achieved, neither bill is going anywhere. In the Senate, Mitch McConnell is blocking the legislation and in the House it’s being blocked by Marsha Blackburn and a small crew of other Republicans — including Andy Barr.

The House bill was introduced by Kentucky Republican Congressman Ed Whitfield — but that hasn’t stopped Andy Barr from claiming that it’s a Big Government Socialist Communist Fascist takeover of our traditional art form of torturing horses.

Over the summer, Andy Barr got in trouble in Lexington after he claimed that the Junior League Horse Show not only condoned this type of horse torture, it actually featured tortured horses in its many charity events. Like most of what Andy Barr says, this claim was patently false — and the Lexington Junior League wasted no time setting the record straight: While Andy Barr may approve of torturing horses, the Junior League most certainly does not.

You might expect that after wrongly accusing the Junior League of partaking in horse torture, Andy Barr would have learned his lesson and perhaps tried to avoid the subject altogether.

But Andy Barr is not like you. You have common sense.


Aside from that $1,000 from a payday lender outfit, the above contributions are all from Andy Barr’s most recent campaign contribution disclosure. As you see, there’s a contribution form the Show Horse Association and another from Michael Inman, the CEO of the Tennessee Walking Horse group. Terry Dotson, Jim Courtner, Mindee Howard, and Virginia Stewart all appear to be involved in the Walking Horse industry. [See here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here]

Andy Barr and his friends say that horse ‘soring’ can be self-policed, even though  it hasn’t been, and they argue it’s not really torture, and well, they have a lot of arguments. You can make up your own mind:

(Warning: That video is hard to watch if you are opposed to horse torture or if you are someone who’s thinking about voting for Andy Barr… because that video is what Andy Barr is using his office to defend.)


Mitch McConnell & Andy Barr continue to support horse torture despite Ed Whitfield’s bill to stop the practice

In Horse Capital of the World, Mitch McConnell (with Andy Barr) is blocking vote on Anti-Horse Torture Bill

In the Horse Capital of the World, Andy Barr’s Hilarious Defense of Horse Torture Stance Blows Up In His Face

Cock Fight: Horse Torturing McConnell crew celebrates Humane Society’s Bevin statement?

McConnell is in the pocket of the Horse-torturing industry

Andy Barr Attacks the Military, Defends Predatory Lenders, Blames Economic Collapse on ‘Government Regulation’

Cheves has a thorough review of last night’s Jensen/Barr debate:

Democrat Elisabeth Jensen came out swinging Monday night in a televised debate with U.S. Rep. Andy Barr, R-Lexington, seeking to brand him a week before the election as a do-nothing member of a gridlocked Congress.

Other than several bills to weaken bank regulations, filed at the request of his banking industry donors, nothing Barr has sponsored has made it out of the Republican-controlled House, Jensen said.

“We need something different in Washington,” she told an audience of about 650 people at the EKU Center for the Arts. “He’s spending a lot of time working on things in Washington and talking about things in Washington which will never actually get done.”

Andy Barr once told me George W. Bush would go down in the history books as one of America’s greatest presidents and last night Barr had clearly put on his George W. Bush Thinking Cap.

On question after question, Barr dodged the substance and instead changed the subject while wrapping himself in some attempt at soaring rhetoric which usually just meant saying something vague about Founding Fathers with no particular relation to the issue and then claiming as truth facts cut from whole cloth lies. It was, to say the least, a performance.

Garland H. Barr IV’s support of Wall Street financial interests was a big subject on the evening though not as big as Barr’s servicing of the Predatory Payday Lending industry.

Elisabeth Jensen repeatedly called Andy Barr’s efforts to protect predatory lenders “appalling.”

It’s appalling that these shady companies charge working families and military service members 600% interest rates and it is even more appalling that Andy Barr supports that practice.

Asked if he would support any cap on payday lender interest rates, Andy Barr responded that federal government regulation of the payday lender industry is yet another government control on the financial services industry and that, Andy Barr reminded us, was what caused the economic collapse of 2008.

Yes. Andy Barr wants you to believe that the financial collapse occurred because of too much government regulation.

Also… the US military is a federal bureaucracy which is attempting to crack down on — or “over-regulate” — Andy Barr’s Payday Lenders. Andy Barr is taking the brave stand of opposing America’s fighting men and women in the name of liberty.

One can almost hear Andy Barr’s next TV ad:

“You fought for this country so that
Andy Barr could fight for Predatory Payday Lenders.”

The military’s attempt to fight payday lenders is a vast government overreach, an attack on the free market.

Read your Cheves for more:

“My opponent believes the only way to create jobs is through tax breaks for the wealthy and to roll back regulations,” she said.

Barr and Jensen repeated their disagreement over the role of government. Jensen favors more government intervention in the economy, including a higher minimum wage, mandatory paycheck equity for women and greater federal spending on infrastructure. Barr said government should get out of the private sector’s way and let it create jobs.

For Eastern Kentucky’s Future

My daddy and brother were coal miners in Harlan County, where I’m from. I think about them every time I see these election ads on TV or in my mailbox talking about coal.

Most of these ads come from Mitch McConnell. Looking at them, you’d think that coal was jumping up out of the ground and putting food on every table in east Kentucky until Obama came along and spoiled the party.

That’s not how I remember it. Seems to me we’ve been losing coal jobs most years and under most presidents for a long time. Mitch went to Washington in 1984. Where was he when we lost more than 16,000 coal jobs under Ronald Reagan? We lost more under Bush I and Clinton. In fact, Kentucky’s lost about two-thirds of its coal jobs since Mitch McConnell has been in office.

That’s some record.

Every time I hear about mining jobs lost, my heart goes out to those miners and their families. My hope is that they find another way, maybe a safer way, to put food on the table. That’s because I got to listen to my daddy gasping for breath in his final days (his lungs had been ruined by coal dust). I got to watch my brother go downhill after he got seriously injured in a rockfall in a coal mine. He died at 41.

I’m not going to tell you who to vote for. But the truth is you can vote for Mitch, you can vote for Alison, you can vote for the Man in the Moon. It’s not going to change anything about coal. The best of that black rock is gone in east Kentucky and nobody in government can really save the jobs that are going with it. What they could do, though, is help people get ready for new ones.

When Mitch talks about coal, I feel like he’s really talking about the past. What he’s saying is that if we elect him again, he’ll protect us from the future.

But we don’t need people to protect us from the future – we need people to help lead us through it.

Alison Lundergan Grimes isn’t perfect, but she doesn’t need to be. She’s smart. She loves Kentucky – and she’s thinking about the future.

That’s why I’m voting for her.

Mitch McConnell: “We Have Very Enlightened Management In This Country” [#EnlightenMitch & The War On Workers]

Mitch McConnell has, from time to time, adopted the conspiracy theory that the IRS was “targeting” right wing political groups for their fundraising and expenditures and touted this as an example of Big Government out of control — because what the IRS was doing is actually fairly reasonable, and what McConnell et al. claim they were doing is actually exactly what Elaine Chao’s Labor Department was doing.

In the instance of the IRS, there’s been a flood of money pouring into outside pressure groups for political activities that they aren’t allowed to partake in — but that they’re partaking in nonetheless. This flood of dark money into independent c4s and 527s and whatnots is very possibly against the law… but the only way one could know if they are running afoul of the law (and you need only look at Wisconsin or at the people behind the Ron Paul bribery scandal in Iowa) is if someone were to look into it. On the other hand, during the early 2000s, Elaine Chao’s Labor Department set up an entire wing run by a political activist to target Labor Groups and document all their illegal activities. In the end, that initiative reported astonishing numbers of criminal acts — but half of the acts were actually duplicates and of the 500 or so remaining, most of those were self-reported by Unions and almost all of them involved wrong-doings by Union Officers, not union members.

But the point of that group was not to root out wrongdoing but rather a concerted effort by Elaine Chao’s Labor Department to undermine labor unions. This is a central mission of the Republican Party under George W. Bush, Mitch McConnell, Scott Walker and so forth and it is carried out on behalf of the corporate executives who believe that without unions they can pay workers less, treat employees worse and make more money for themselves.


The Republican Party loves “Big Government” when that nefarious Big Brother force is used to deny the right to vote to poor and minority voters en masse under the guise of nonexistent “widespread” voter fraud, and in Elaine Chao’s Labor Department, the GOP loved “Big Government” because they could use government assets to achieve their own political aims.

In 2009, Mitch McConnell — who is funded by the anti-worker bosses of corporate America — explained to a Commerce Lexington crowd at Keeneland that union membership has declined because workers don’t want to join unions and because we have “very enlightened management in this country now.”

As ThinkProgress pointed out at the time, the “enlightened” management was actually responsible for the decrease in union membership because of draconian tactics they — and McConnell’s wife in George W. Bush’s Labor Department — were using to suppress and punish their workers and potential workers:

For starters, an AFL-CIO survey found that there are 60 million American workers who say that they would join a union if they could. The reason that they can’t is because employers threaten to close plants in 57 percent of union organizing drives and threaten to cut wages and benefits in 47 percent, while ultimately firing pro-union workers 34 percent of the time.

As Kate Bronfenbrenner, Director of Labor Education Research at the Cornell School of Industrial and Labor Relations pointed out, over the last 20 years “employer opposition [to unionization] has intensified…and the nature of campaigns has changed so that the focus is on more coercive and punitive tactics designed to intensely monitor and punish union activity.”

And in addition to anti-union campaigns, management in this country is engaged in a whole host of other labor violations. Yesterday, a new survey came out in which 68 percent of low-income workers reported being subject to a pay violation in the previous work week alone. This isn’t meant to paint the entire business community with a broad stroke — as there are surely plenty of companies that don’t engage in this sort of behavior — but the problem is far more widespread than McConnell and the rest of the Republican party are evidently willing to concede. And just like with health care reform, the GOP has already decided that it’s not interested in discussing a solution.

Of course, Mitch McConnell doesn’t know any of those facts because Mitch McConnell doesn’t talk to workers or actual everyday citizens. He prefers the company of his friends who calls the “very enlightened management.”

If he did let himself get “enlightened” by people who actually do the jobs instead of just listening to the “enlightened management” who live off them, Mitch McConnell might learn that the “enlightened management” is one reason why wages are down, retirement savings are down, and everything costs more… while corporate profits continue to soar. But that’d take a lot of listening.

Jensen vs. Barr, Round 2 — #KY6 Debate Tonight, 7PM at EKU

It was not a great week for Andy Barr.

  • His debate performance on KET consisted mostly of yelling disparate buzzwords with an overly emphatic use of incorrect facts strung together across disconnected talking points. (Ronnie Ellis had a good roundup.) 
  • A Cheves investigation found that while Barr’s recent ad claims the Freshman congressman’s been busy, not one of the bill’s he touts as an accomplishment has actually made it out of the GOP-controlled House. Essentially… Andy Barr is a Do Nothing Congressman who’s done nothing in the middle of a Do Nothing Congress which his own party controls.

The list could go on. There’s Andy Barr’s lingering Payday Lender imbroglio and Jensen’s new TV ad, and… well, it was not a great week for Andy Barr.

The experts still have this House race as an easy GOP win, but outside of internal polls, it hasn’t been polled recently and even those internal polls are now over a month old. Barr’s poll put him up big but didn’t mention undecideds, while Jensen’s had her within single digits with 17% undecided. Jensen’s been in an uphill battle from the beginning but she’s fought the whole way — increasing name recognition along the way — and there’s now a week left. With the Kentucky Senate race still locked in a dead heat, it’ll come down to undecideds deciding, GOTV efforts and turnout. Again, that’s why it’s inextricably linked to the Senate race. If Barr wins, if his base turns out in force, that’s good for McConnell and bad for Grimes. If Democrats in the 6th can motivate their voters in the Black community and the Hispanic community, if they can get women and young people who will normally vote in a Presidential election year to the polls for the midterm, then that’s good for Grimes.

If your ballot doesn’t look like this:


Then you’re doing it wrong.

Elisabeth Jensen and Andy Barr will debate again tonight at 7PM at EKU. The debate will be televised on WKYT’s CW affiliate and broadcast live on WEKU 88.9FM.

Between Andy Barr’s ridiculousness and Elisabeth Jensen’s tooth-and-nail vigor, it will be good TV. Here’s a taste of what you can expect, a far cry from the Senate debate as the two candidates are aggressively laying out starkly different platforms for the state.

In this you will see Jensen lay out facts about the state of the health care system in a strong defense of Gov. Beshear’s rollout of Kynect and the benefits of the Affordable Care Act. In response, Andy Barr claims that Kynect is just a website, like Kayak, and that it’s killing jobs (untrue) and torturing people (untrue). When KET’s Bill Goodman presses him to explain what would happen to the 500,000 people now insured under Kynect, Barr instead claims that it will destroy education and the state retirement fund. That’s an absurd suggestion from Barr given that it’s not true, it doesn’t answer the question, and that Barr’s ideological belief system is essentially opposed to the proper funding of public education to begin with — if the ACA were actually going to destroy public education, more Republicans would actually be for it. On top of all that, Barr is funded by the Blackstone Group which is one of the hedge funds that’s currently raiding the Kentucky retirement fund and sending the retirement fund into a death spiral.

Enjoy Andy’s manic delivery of here — and tonight at 7PM at EKU. His debating style is basically to throw cow turds into a fan and before anyone can see what sticks, he just shovels more into the fan.


Jensen: ACA helps small businesses as well as the uninsured