Payday lenders have been recorded discussing how to leverage their contributions to President Donald Trump’s campaign to weaken government regulations in the industry with help from his administration, according to a recording obtained by The Washington Post.
Michael Hodges, the founder of payday lending giant Advance Financial, told his industry colleagues on a September 24 webcast that he was successful in gaining influence with the Trump administration.
“For example, I went to see Ronna McDaniel and said, ‘Ronna, I need help with something,’” he said, referring to the chair of the Republican National Committee. “She was able to call the White House and say, ‘Hey, we have one of our big donors. They need an audience. … They need to be heard and you need to listen to them. This is why it is important.
Hodges made the comments as the payday lending industry, which charges noticeably high interest rates on short-term loans, waits new rules that could weaken those put in place by the Obama administration, which require lenders to confirm that customers can afford to repay the loan amount.
Hodges and three other industry leaders discussed their qualms about the presidential campaign of Senator Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., And their disgust for Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., The chair of the House financial services committee, but praised Trump as their “last safety net.”
“When Trump was elected, the needle moved in our favor – finally,” said Max Wood, who heads Borrow Smart Compliance. “If you need something and maybe we need something… then it would be nice if you could pick up the phone and call someone who could get the President’s attention.”
Wood told the public that contributing to Trump’s campaign would give Hodges “access in case we need access to the president.”
Hodges urged the public to give as much as they can.
“If I can show the campaign that Tina and I have brought new net donors to the campaign ie whether it’s $ 100, $ 50, $ 25, $ 15,000 or $ 50,000 s’ they didn’t donate last time, it’s a boost for us as fundraisers, he said, referring to his wife.
Hodges said he had already contributed more than $ 1 million to Trump’s campaign. His company donated more than $ 965,000 to campaigns in 2018 and has already donated more than $ 667,000 this election cycle, with almost all of the money going to Republicans, according to the Center for Responsive Policy.
Hodges added that holding high cost fundraisers “increases the weight of this fundraiser so that when you go to talk to the administration throughout the campaign, they listen to you.”
Wood posted the webinar video to YouTube, but deleted it after it was flagged in the mail and declined to answer questions. Hodges denied to Post reporters that he had ever used the funds he raised for Trump to ask the administration for help despite his claim in the video.
“When I talk about access, I am not talking about administration. I didn’t pressure the administration, ”Hodges said at the point of sale. “I didn’t go to the White House because of Ronna McDaniel. … It just didn’t happen.
But during the webcast, Hodges told audiences it would be a “push” if he could show the campaign he had attracted new donors.
“It’s important for the campaign, which means it’s important for the president, which means it’s important if you ever need to call on someone for anything in the administration,” he said on the call. “This is how these things work.”
The RNC has not denied that McDaniel helped connect Hodges with the administration.
“Part of the RNC’s job is to share what we hear from its supporters across the country with party leaders,” RNC spokesperson Mike Reed told The Post. “We will often connect our supporters with other Republican officials when they have a message they would like to get across.”
Two advocacy groups that first reported the video, Allied Progress and Americans for Financial Reform, said the video exposed the dirty truth about how influence is bought in Washington.
“Here we have a vivid example of how money in US politics leads to consumer abuse in the financial services market,” Linda Jun of Americans for Financial Reform told The Post. Derek Martin, who heads Allied Progress, added, “This presentation reflects the worst of Washington, DC – wealthy executives buying politicians so they can keep their predatory business model intact.