We Republicans should avoid KC-linked payday lenders snatching money from black people
As an African-American civil rights leader and Republican, I have spent my career promoting free-market reforms to empower my brothers and sisters who fall disproportionately into low-income brackets. I have even supported some people who work in the payday loan industry when following ethical practices aimed at protecting consumers. But now I’m calling some Kansas City-area lenders who donate primarily to Republicans for their callous treatment of African Americans.
In the past, I joined many local civil rights groups in support of microcredit – sometimes described as payday loans – because I believed it could transform lives by providing easy access to credit for families to low income. People use credit to get up, start businesses, get degrees, buy homes, and deal with emergencies.
As a spokesperson for CORE, the Congress for Racial Equality, I have worked closely with industry. From 2007 to 2009, CORE spent time working with the Community Financial Services Association and Moneytree, Inc. to develop and promote their Consumer Bill of Rights. Our group gave special recognition to Dennis Bassford, Chairman and CEO of Moneytree, for promoting meaningful consumer protections.
Unfortunately, over the past decade, a few dodgy Kansas City-based individuals have tainted an important industry for minority communities in desperate need of credit. Acting outside of industry norms, these payday lenders allegedly sought to deceive and ultimately drain the meager savings of our country’s most vulnerable citizens.
For too long, politicians — especially Republicans — have accepted money and advice from some of these unscrupulous operators who have been shunned by reputable lenders.
Consider Scott Tucker, who gave generously to the Republican Party as he built a fortune through a payday loan program that federal prosecutors say ripped off up to 4.5 million people with 600% loans. interest rate. Tucker was fined $1.27 billion and over 16 years in prison.
Yet Kansas City is still home to many malicious actors in the payday loan industry. Currently, Kansas City-area residents Scott Asner, Joshua Landy and Richard Moseley are being sued by Virginia residents under the RICO or Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, which was created to suppress organized crime. The businesses named in the lawsuit are largely operated out of a call center in Overland Park. Seven plaintiffs allege that these lenders collected illegal debts through their allegedly usurious lending practices.
The lawsuit, filed in federal court, alleges that Asner, Landy, Moseley and others received millions of dollars in illegal debt collection and conspired to repeatedly violate state loan laws. The plaintiffs say they were duped into taking out loans with interest rates ranging from 543% to 919%. Because the payday loan companies operate online, the plaintiffs say they were unaware the loans would not be subject to laws in Virginia — where they reside — that limit interest rates to 12%.
Another Kansas City-area person deeply involved in business dealings with Asner is Michael Gortenburg. .
Lincoln’s party should be forced to expose those who prey on the weakest among us. We should work hard to help free the powerless from financial slavery. The GOP should return all payday lender donations and champion industry reforms.
Niger Innis is the National President of the Congress of Racial Equality.