Ethics complaint alleges Kevin Yoder and Blaine Luetkemeyer are carrying water for the payday lending industry

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Kevin Yoder took more campaign donations from the payday-lending industry than any other member of the U.S. Congress between 2011 and 2015, according to a new study by Allied Progress. 

The group found that the Kansas congressman has received $100,357 from the industry since 2011. Our own analysis last year — which tallied up not just big payday operators like Cash America and QC Holdings but also shadier online lenders, many of whom are or were based in Kansas City — found that Yoder has taken more like $150,000 since being elected in 2010.  

The Allied Progress report examines ties between political donations to 12 members of Congress, including Yoder and Blaine Luetkemeyer of Missouri. Of Luetkemeyer, the report notes: 

On July 18, 2012, Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer of Missouri introduced HR 6139 – legislation that experts said would undermine oversight of payday lenders by allowing them to bypass the regulatory authority of the CFPB [Consumer Financial Protection Bureau] and stronger state laws. The day before, Luetkemeyer refunded a $2,500 campaign contribution to the PAC of the payday lending industry’s special interest trade group – Community Financial Services Association of America (CFSA). Exactly two months later he received a contribution from the CFSA for double the original amount.

Yoder also received buckets of campaign cash from the payday-lending industry a week after signing on as a co-sponsor of a bill designed to hobble the CFPB, which regulates the industry. Both men’s signatures also top a letter from payday-friendly pols to the federal government, admonishing the Department of Justice and the FDIC for cracking down on predatory online lenders by choking off their access to the banks. 

In light of all this, the watchdog organization Campaign for Accountability has filed an ethics complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics, asking for an investigation into the actions of Yoder, Luetkemeyer and the 10 other congressmen, alleging collusion. 

“The Office of Congressional Ethics should immediately investigate whether these members of Congress were abusing the public trust by carrying the water of the payday-lending industry in exchange for contributions,” says Anne Weismann, executive director of Campaign for Authority. “Once again, it appears that the public good has been sacrificed at the alter of high-dollar donors. This is exactly the sort of pay-to-play scheme that leaves Americans so disheartened about the state of our government.”

Yoder’s camp says Campaign for Accountability’s complaint is a “baseless…attempt to smear his [Yoder’s] efforts to reform and improve government.” 

The full CFA complaint can be read here

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