Liberal group spends $ 100,000 on TV ads in South Florida to denounce troubled Democratic National Committee chairperson Debbie Wasserman Schultz for not cracking down more harshly on what many call the predatory practices of the payday lending industry.
Allied Progress, in her 30-second commercial, uses the congressman’s recent appearance on a local Sunday public affairs show to criticize her for co-sponsoring a bill that would delay the Federal Consumer Financial Protection Council from regulate the business.
Payday lenders have long been the target of criticism from politicians and consumer advocates, who argue that the industry charges extremely high interest rates on customers, who are often the poor. The industry has argued that it provides a necessary financial service to people in need of emergency funds.
The ad features Wasserman Schultz saying that “payday loans are unfortunately… necessary” in an April 10 interview on “Facing South Florida with CBS-4 Jim DeFede. “
“No, congressman, it’s predatory,” said a voiceover. “Tell Debbie Wasserman Schultz to stop siding with payday lenders.”
“How could anyone qualify this racket as ‘necessary’ – unfortunate or not – is beyond me,” he said. Karl Frisch, executive director of Allied Progress, told The Associated Press while announcing the purchase of six-figure ads. The ad begins airing Tuesday for at least a week in the Miami TV market.
He also blames the congresswoman for raising more than $ 68,000 in campaign contributions from the payday loan industry, citing figures from the Center for Responsible Politics.
“(Borrowers) get trapped in a cycle of debt as payday lenders amass heaps of money, then turn around and donate to powerful politicians like Wasserman Schultz,” Frisch said.
Ryan Banfill, spokesperson for Wasserman Schultz’s campaign, said that “the ad, like all the others, intentionally takes it out of context.”
He said the congresswoman said that “payday loans are unfortunately a necessary part of enabling people to access the capital of the working poor” and that raising the minimum wage to $ 15 an hour would make unnecessary payday loans.
“This is a Super PAC masquerading as a group of consumers,” he said. “The group apparently decided they couldn’t win a debate without resorting to distortions and intimidation. It’s unfortunate for people who just want to pay their bills responsibly but are running out of money. “
He added that Wasserman Schultz “will continue to fight hard to protect consumers, as her constituents know she always has.”
The ad buy comes at a time when Wasserman Schultz faces a serious challenger in the Democratic primary for the seat of Florida’s 23rd Congressional District and has come under fire from Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.
Tim canova, a law professor at the university, raised over $ 1.5 million and got Sanders’ approval in his quest to defeat her. It has held the seat since 2005. The district is strongly Democratic, so the winner of the August 30 primary is almost guaranteed to win the November general election.
The Sanders campaign accused her of offering more favorable terms to favorite Hillary Clinton during the primaries, highlighting the amount and timing of debates and a dispute over access to party data.
Washington-based Allied Progress has been scathing criticism of her. Previously, she had produced a TV commercial and paid for a pair of billboards in the South Florida MP’s District, attacking her position on payday loans. He also started an online petition, DebtTrapDebbie.com, calling on him to “stop sabotaging the president ObamaIt is hard work to hold payday lenders accountable.
Wasserman Schultz is one of 24 co-sponsors of HR 4018, a bipartisan bill that would allow states, including Florida, to continue to regulate payday lenders instead of the federal government and delay federal rules by two. years. Half of Bill’s co-sponsors are from Florida.
In the CBS-4 interview, Wasserman Schultz said the controversy over the bill was “overblown”, adding that he was only saying “let’s press the pause button” to allow other states “that haven’t protection as good as us “to catch up in Florida.
Payday loans are often used to cover an unexpected expense or to make ends meet before the next paycheck. But for many borrowers, short-term loans prove difficult to repay, resulting in a cycle of debt that can last for months.
Such loans drain $ 4.1 billion in annual fees from consumers in 36 states where the loans are legal, according to a report released this month by the nonprofit Center For Responsible Lending. He revealed that borrowers pay $ 458 in fees on a typical $ 350 loan over two weeks. The interest rates in Florida for payday loans are on average 304%.
Republished with permission from The Associated Press.