Why Payday Lenders Were Met By Protesters When They Convened At A Trump Resort

Written by Ann Brown

Are payday lenders cozying up to Donald Trump?

Protesters claimed so earlier this week in front of Trump National Doral Golf Club, a Trump resort near Miami. Payday lenders were holding their annual convention there. The protesters gathered outside the resort to call attention to an industry they claim preys on the vulnerable, lending money at exorbitant interest rates — as high as 200-to-300 percent a year.

For the protesters, the timing is more than coincidence, especially since the White House has eased up on regulations against payday lenders.

“The Community Financial Services Association of America, a group that represents and lobbies on behalf of payday loan companies, booked the venue last year at a time it was actively seeking allies in Washington to undo tough new regulations on the industry,” the Miami New Times reported.

The protestors were from a variety of faith-based organizations. They held up signs calling for Trump and other political leaders to “Stop the debt trap.”

The payday lenders were even greeted at Miami International airport with protest ads. “Keep your purse close,” one ad in baggage claim alerted. “The payday lending conference is in town.”

“We believe it’s a conflict of interest,” said Hamlin, one of the protesters, according to Miami New Times. “This administration has business before it that is of key concern to payday lenders, and the payday lenders are taking money they have stolen from hardworking families and giving it to the president to make sure he does right by them.”

After becoming head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney elected to but a hold on stringent new regulations for the payday loan industry.

“Any way to gain access or curry favor, they’re going to do,” said Stephen Reeves with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship in Georgia. He came to protest outside the conference, NPR reported. “We’ve seen this industry is incredibly creative and responsive in the ways it influences — whether it’s through lobbyists or campaign contributions. So I don’t think this is a coincidence.”

Trump White House Budget Director Mulvaney decided not to pursue a lawsuit against a Kansas-based payday loan collector and referred to his own agency in a memo as “far too powerful,” according to the Miami New Times.

Mulvaney has been criticized for accepting more than $60,000 in campaign donations from payday lenders while he was in Congress, NPR reported.

Of course, the payday industry is happy with Mulvaney’s actions. Jamie Fulmer with Advance America, one of the largest payday lenders, told NPR, “Everything that we’ve seen the bureau issue, the comments that the director has made, give us to believe that the bureau will be more judicious in their approach.”