Ridiculous attack against payday lending initiative
The Kansas City Star
Missourians for Equal Credit Opportunity, the anonymously funded group that is opposing efforts to reform payday lending in Missouri, is on TV in the Springfield area with an ad that is either audacious or laughable. Or both.
It features a stream of corporate- types exiting a plane, and then approaching ordinary folks, brandishing clipboards.
“Here they come again,” a voice intones, “D.C. special interests invading our neighborhoods, deceiving Missouri voters and pushing their outsider interests on us.”
D.C. special interests? That’s the laughable part. This ad is clearly aimed at derailing an initiative petition to rein in payday lenders, though it never explicitly says so. The lavishly paid consultants behind Missourians for Equal Credit Opportunity are well aware that the payday loan initiative is as grass-roots as any we’ve seen in Missouri. It originated with church congregations. Backers of the initiative are paying some signature gatherers, but most are volunteers.
The group sponsoring the bogus commercial, Missourians for Equal Credit Opportunity, is a different story. It hides the source of the $1 million-plus it has received in campaign donations, but suspicions that out-of-state payday loan companies are funding the campaign are well-founded. As you can see here, Overland Park-based QC Holdings disclosed in an SEC filing that it had “already spent substantial amounts opposing the efforts to place this initiative on the ballot.”
The ad goes on to describe petition gatherers as “an Army of outsiders approaching us in our stores and in our streets.”
It advises: “If someone asks you to sign a voter petition, just decline to sign. Stop outsider special interests. Decline to Sign.”
The thing is, a bunch of petitions are in circulation right now. Are Springfield-area voters supposed to decline to sign all of them? That could get dicey. The cabal of consultants and strategists working to derail the payday lending initiative is often involved on behalf of petition drives — some of them funded by authentic outside interests.
A Cole County circuit judge last week declared the summary for the payday loan reforms that would appear on a statewide ballet to be invalid, saying it wasn’t specific enough. Secretary of State Robin Carnahan said today she would appeal that ruling.
Good for her.