Friday, August 13, 2010

Attorney General Re-writes Payday Lending Laws While Taking Industry Campaign Donations

While Colorado continues to face a challenging employment environment and a downturned economy, Colorado’s Attorney General is taking orders from the payday lending industry. A new law governing payday loans, passed earlier this year by the Colorado Legislature, took effect on Wednesday. The law required the Attorney General’s office to write some of the complicated regulations. However, the incumbent Attorney General has accepted thousands from payday lending industry Political Action Committees (PACs).
“This law was sorely needed in our state to protect the folks hardest hit by the economic downturn” said Colorado Attorney General candidate Stan Garnett. “I declared early in my campaign I would not accept PAC money because of situations like these, where the industry tries to influence policy to their advantage.”

The most controversial campaign contribution, a $500 check from Cash America International PAC, was accepted by the incumbent on June 28, 2010. This campaign contribution came just a month after the passage of the bill and in the middle of the process of writing the regulations. The incumbent has also taken repeated donations from Cash America and Ace Cash Express, as early in his tenure as July 2006. Other payday lender PACs who have paid into John Suthers’ coffers include the Rent-a-Center for Good Government PAC in June 2009.

“Coloradans want a level playing field and need to know that the Attorney General is fighting for them. Coloradans are tired of industry having a seat at the table behind closed doors,” Garnett said. “When I’m Attorney General, I will be the peoples’ lawyer and will not accept money from the industries that I’m regulating or overseeing.”

At the June 2nd debate (20:11), the incumbent claimed he doesn’t advise the legislature on payday loan legislation because he’s their regulator. However, he accepts campaign contributions from the same industry he’s supposed to be regulating.

That doesn’t sit well with State Rep. Mark Ferrandino, D-HD2, chair of the Joint Budget Committee, who sponsored the payday lending bill. “When he (the incumbent Attorney General) is taking money from the industries while he is writing rules to regulate that industry, something just smells fishy,” said Ferrandino.