Mac Thornberry, a representative from Texas, had a conflict of interest over his wife when he blocked a federal crackdown on predatory lenders targeting members of the military.
Thornberry was chairman of the House Armed Services Committee when it ended new Military Lending Act restrictions that would protect military personnel from predatory lending practices.
Meanwhile, however, Thornberry’s wife, Sally, worked for Canfield & Associates, a company that lobbies on behalf of the Consumer Mortgage Coalition, the Washington Examiner reported
The Consumer Mortgage Coalition is a trade association in the mortgage industry that has lobbied on a number of loan-related issues.
According to the report, Sally Thornberry worked for the lobbying firm in 2015 and 2016.
Rep. Mac Thornberry blocked regulations on predatory lenders targeting the military as his wife worked for a lobbying firm associated with allegedly affected banks
While chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Thorberry’s wife Sally (right) worked for Canfield & Associates, a company that lobbies on behalf of the Consumer Mortgage Coalition.
Sally Thornberry’s work for the firm has been described as “freelance postal services writing” by a representative for her husband
A representative for Thornberry said his wife’s work for the lobby group was linked to “freelance writing about the postal service.”
Then-President Barack Obama proposed restrictions on lending to the military, which would force lenders, banks and credit card companies to cap interest rates at 36% per year.
It would also prohibit these lenders from requiring the military to seek arbitration when a problem arises instead of seeking resolution in court.
The restrictions would combat any predatory lenders targeting military personnel.
The Department of Defense loses $ 14 million a year due to the fact that 11% of the military fall victim to predatory lending practices, the ministry found.
These previously proposed restrictions on military loans did not include those on residential mortgages, but would have applied to companies that provided these services, including member companies of the Consumer Mortgage Coalition.
Coalition members include Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, Chase Home Lending, CitiMortgage, and several other major banks – many of which are said to be affected by military lending restrictions.
Thorberry was president from 2015-2019, and his wife worked for the lobbying firm in 2015 and 2016
The Texas representative argued at the time that the government should educate the military on finance and lending rather than adding more bank regulations.
The coalition Sally worked for included Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, Chase Home Lending, CitiMortgage and several other major banks – many of which would be affected by military lending restrictions.
Thornberry supported postponing these new rules in an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act of 2016, arguing that it would require lenders to access a military database that may or may not be accurate. working properly.
He advocated instead reducing regulations and instead focusing on educating the military about finances and how to avoid falling prey to predatory practices.
“If you look outside of military posts, there are different types of businesses,” Thornberry told the Texas Tribune in 2015. “And so I think it’s a question: How much do we want to put in federal law, about fast food? Or various other kinds of things? ‘
Another potential conflict of interest emerged in the Tribune article. He said Thornberry raised more than $ 33,000 in the first quarter of 2015 from an executive at the American Financial Services Association, which is one of the main groups that lobbied to delay regulation.
Thornberry is now the most senior member of the Armed Services Committee after Democrats won a majority in the House after the 2018 midterm elections.
The Consumer Mortgage Coalition has opposed government efforts to regulate predatory practices in the past, saying in 2004 that the term “predatory lending” “is difficult to define.”
“New laws are not needed to solve these problems,” the coalition wrote to the Special Senate Committee on Aging in a 2004 letter. “On the contrary, there must be a renewed emphasis on allocating the necessary resources. to the application of existing law. “