“As I always tell you, I assume people donate to someone because they agree with their policy positions.”
That’s what Andy Barr’s spokesperson told the Herald Leader on Thursday in response to a John Cheves report on Andy’s work to defend and protect the Predatory Payday Loan Industry which has heavily funded the freshman Congressman’s campaign.
This is the same spokesperson who told the same paper last May that it was “Absurd!” to call Andy Barr “the Wall Street candidate.”
Here is just part of what Cheves reported in the Herald:
Barr, a House Financial Services Committee member, had taken at least $334,666 in campaign donations from the banking, finance and investments industries as of June 30, including payday lenders and major banks that have financed them, such as Wells Fargo and Bank of America. PNC, the bank that in March confirmed getting subpoenaed under Operation Choke Point, has given Barr $9,500.
….Payday loan chains with names like Cash America, Advance America and First Cash Financial have shared in billions of dollars in financial backing from major banks, including Wells Fargo, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Capital One and Citibank, according to a study last year of the banks’ required public disclosures by Reinvestment Partners, a Durham, N.C., group that opposes payday lending.
Payday Lenders maintain deep institutional ties to the Too Big To Fail Banks which have long run and funded Andy Barr’s campaign. As Cheves notes, Barr has taken at least $334,666 from the banking, finance and investments industries as of June of this year. But the Payday Lenders have money of their own to give as well.
Cheves highlights that some of that money — he puts it at $22,700 — comes directly from Payday Lenders. But that total, it seems, is actually much higher now, thanks to Andy Barr’s most recent FEC filing which was released on Wednesday.
Cheves doesn’t delineate exactly how he got to $22,700 but based it matches up with my own count. As of the end of this June, I was able to find $21,200 in contributions from players in the Predatory Payday Loan industry. That’s a $1,500 difference which is likely either a single donation, two donations or three donations — but it doesn’t really matter, because it is more than safe to defer to Cheves on the number.
If Andy Barr has taken $22,700 from Predatory Payday Lenders through the end of June… how much has he taken since then?
As with my earlier search, it is easy to underestimate the total because so many of these Predatory Lenders operate under multiple names or as subsidiaries of more legitimately named companies — or in some cases, the other way around.
Take David Fisher of Chicago, for example. Fisher wrote Andy Barr a check in July for $1,000. Fisher’s occupation is listed simply as “Executive” of a company named “Enova.” But Enova isn’t just some company, it’s the online lending arm of the Predatory Lending giant Cash America.
Other donors are more obvious. Abby Jones of Cleveland, TN is the “Government Relations Manager” for a company called “Check into Cash,” another online lender. Jones wrote Andy Barr a check for $1,000 in early August.
William C. Pruett of Texarkana, AK wrote Andy Barr a check for $2,500 on the last day of September. He’s the owner of DMP Investments — but as B&P has noted, William Pruett of Texarkana also appears to be the man behind payday lending outposts in Arkansas.
On August 8th, Andy Barr took a $1,000 check from Encore Capital Group in San Diego. That’s a debt collector that’s been the subject of numerous lawsuits over its collection tactics which apparently include robo-signing.
At the end of July, Garland H. Barr IV collected a $2,500 check from the Community Financial Services Association PAC. That group, which represents the biggest players in the Predatory Payday Lending Industry, had already given Andy $2,500 this past February, so this brings their total to $5,000. The Community Financial Services Association, the trade group of the payday loan industry, is the central force behind a lawsuit against the U.S. government concerning “Operation Choke Hold.” This Thursday, the same day Cheves’ report appeared on Kentucky.com, Andy Barr co-authored a letter to the Department of Justice doubling down on his contention that any government attempt to protect consumers — largely working families and members of the military — from these predators is an example of oppressive overregulation. Andy Barr is fighting to defend Payday Lenders, not to protect Kentucky families.
Those totals — and as with the earlier ones, there’s really no telling how many other contributions are going under the radar unless one were to cross reference every single one of Barr’s innumerable out-of-state donors — come to an additional $7,000 if you don’t count Encore… and $8,000 if you do (and if you were to go back and re-count Barr’s larger totals, the number of shady debt collectors would balloon his overall take here).
Either way, what you are looking at is clear. Andy Barr has taken roughly $30,000 that we know of from the Predatory Payday Loan Sharks for his re-election campaign and now, just weeks before Election Day, Andy Barr is actively pushing protections for the industry that’s handing him the cash.
Andy Barr’s spokesperson told the Herald Leader, “I assume people donate to someone because they agree with their policy positions.”
That’s an absurd proposition under any circumstance, but when you’re talking about Predatory Payday Lenders… it’s simply insane.
As anyone who’s ever gotten caught up in the Predatory Payday Lending Debt Cycle could tell you, these guys don’t give you $30,000 and expect nothing in return.
They will bleed you dry.
And apparently, so will Andy Barr.
***FOR MORE ON THIS***
The Payday Loan Industry preys on working class families (and very often, members of the military), offering them easy cash in seconds but charging them exorbitant interest rates on the backend. This usually creates a cycle of debt from which the borrowers struggle to emerge — they have to borrow more money to cover the cost of the initial loan, and so forth.
This business model has been condemned by a broad coalition of Kentucky groups, from the Kentucky Baptist Convention to the Catholic Conference of Kentucky, Habitat for Humanity and AARP. With the government finally trying to crack down on their predatory practices after more than a decade of free-wheeling, the Pay Day Loan Industry is flush with cash and buying up politicians like Andy Barr to do their bidding.