Top donors of the consumer loan industry to North Carolina lawmakers

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The consumer credit industry, which recently managed to persuade the Republican-led state legislature to pass a bill it wanted, has been a major contributor to GOP lawmakers in recent years.

An analysis of state Council of Elections data by Democracy North Carolina, a voter rights and campaign finance watchdog group, found that people associated with the consumer loan industry and two committees of The sector’s political action has given at least $ 530,000 to lawmakers and party committees over the past four years. Of that amount, 92 percent went to Republicans.

“I would say they got a real advantage by putting in that kind of money,” said Bob Hall, director of Democracy NC.

RE Everette, chair of the Resident Lenders of North Carolina legislative committee, which represents the state’s independent consumer loan companies, said “there is no connection” between industry contributions and its recent legislative victory.

“We are just supporting people who believe in free enterprise,” Everette said. “I give to Democrats and Republicans, although I have to admit most have been for Republicans.”

Everette said he didn’t expect the candidates he donates to always vote his way.

“I only agree with myself 60 percent of the time,” he said.

Democracy NC analysis found that the bulk of campaign contributions came from two dozen owners of consumer loan companies. Everette, owner of Time Financing Service, a consumer loan company with 24 offices statewide, has led the industry in giving $ 188,000 over the past four years. Her mother, Gail N. Blanton, was No. 2; she donated $ 49,200.

An industry-pushed bill, the HB 140, was recently passed by the legislature and now sits on Governor Roy Cooper’s desk. A spokesperson for the governor said this week he was reviewing the bill.

The bill passed over objections from consumer groups who found themselves playing a legislative variant of Whack-a-mole. The groups were successful in getting the measure removed from a bill, but it was subsequently added to two other bills.

Consumer finance companies provide loans of up to $ 15,000 with interest rates ranging from 18% to 30% for auto repairs, vacations, funerals, weddings, debt consolidation and debt consolidation. other needs and wants.

If the bill becomes law, consumer groups say, it will allow consumer finance companies to expand the type of products on which consumer finance companies can sell mortgage insurance in conjunction with a loan. . Mortgage insurance, which consumer groups see as junk insurance, insures against damage or loss to property used to secure a loan.

The industry, on the other hand, argues that the bill simply clarifies existing state law and defends mortgage insurance as being useful.

Hall said the industry has been very strategic with its campaign donations.

“They don’t just give to their local lawmakers,” he said. “They distributed the money” to a number of lawmakers, including the leaders.

Senate Leader Phil Berger, a Republican from Rockingham County, was the No. 1 recipient at $ 48,250. Speaker of the House Tim Moore, a Republican from Cleveland County, received $ 19,050.

Cooper, a Democrat, received $ 1,000 for his election campaign last year. His Republican opponent, incumbent Governor Pat McCrory, received $ 29,500.

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