Utah Stories

Lobby on the Dark Side – Payday Loan Industry

Powerful lobby groups can influence state government



…continued from part one.

Many lobbyists work to protect the businesses or rights of those they represent. But there are darker agendas. One of the most powerful lobby groups is the payday loan industry and Representative Brad Daw – Orem, knows first hand just how powerful they can be.

Daw had been a representative for 8 years and he introduced legislation to regulate the payday loan industry several times. During the 2012 election the industry took notice.

Setting up a non-profit the group was able to make contributions that didn’t have to be declared. They began sending out mailers and postcards to the voters in Daw’s district defaming him and extolling the virtues of his opponent. They also used an unethical practice of “push polling”. According to Daw instead of a straight political poll the caller tries to persuade the voter one way or another.

A typical conversation would start with the caller asking who they were voting for. From there the caller leads the voter to believe that by voting for their person of choice they’ll be making a terrible mistake.

In 2012 Daw was defeated. With the payday industry taking a hit due to their ties to the Mark Shurtleff and John Swallow legal problems, Daw saw 2014 as a good time to run again.

Daw got a lot of support from individual contributors. Many of his campaign finance came from those giving $100, rather than from big corporations.  “I could see that people were upset about what happened to me and they wanted to help make it right.”

So once again Daw plans on introducing payday loan legislation. His bill is simple and has been passed in 12 other states. He would like Utah to pass a law that would limit people to no more than two payday loans at any one time with a maximum amount of $1000. At this time there are no real limits. People can become trapped in a cycle from going to one payday loan business after another to pay off loans they owe to other payday businesses. It can become an unbreakable cycle.

What does Daw see holding the bill back? “The state has a reluctance to regulate business and the payday loan industry has a lot of money to spend on lobbyists.”

What else can we expect from the 2015 legislative session? According to Utah Political Capitol some of the legislation will center about civil liberties and marriage. “Representative Jacob Anderegg (Republican – Lehi) has said he intends to run legislation that would allow government officials (such as county clerks and judges) to refuse civil marriage licenses to same-sex couples if they claim that doing so would is against their personal religious beliefs.”

The environment will come up. Representative Becky Edwards (Republican – North Salt Lake) has submitted a bill file entitled “Air Quality Revisions”Edwards would like to the see the state increase air standards that go beyond federal minimum standards.

Brian King (Democrat – Salt Lake City), will likely introduce legislation on caps on campaign contributions. He’s met with resistance last year, but plans on introducing it again this year.

Other topics include legislation on alcohol and how it’s served. The economy and crime will also be on the agenda as well as education budgets, health & safety and everyone’s favorite topic – taxes!



Story by Connie Lewis

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