Congressman defends payday lending industry

 Rep. Gregory Meeks

D-N.Y.

Top financial industry donor: Credit Suisse

  • Held a 2012 birthday fundraiser at the Wall Street Capital Grille, top ticket price $2,500. Previous fundraisers hosted by lobbyists for payday, card, mortgage insurance, ICBA and credit unions.
  • Defended a 2009 bill to loosen regulation of payday lenders by saying it provides options to people who in earlier times “would come back without a limb” for failing to repay.
  • Industry contributions since 2010: $1,182,022

  

A congressman who has been criticized for being too close to the financial industry Thursday declared that his broad support for payday lending firms is about “trying to make sure individuals have dignity and aren’t ripped off.”

Rep. Gregory Meeks, D-N.Y., spoke to a breakfast meeting at the National Press Club for Master Your Card, MasterCard’s “public education” effort to show consumers, small businesses and governments more ways to use electronic payments.

Meeks was dubbed a member of the “banking caucus” in a Center for Public Integrity investigation released in April. Just before he spoke, the group heard from Rep. Steve Stivers, R-Ohio, another “banking caucus” member and former megabank lobbyist.

Meeks told the crowd that efforts to tighten oversight of high-cost, short-term loans targeting poor people will “take options off the table,” driving consumers to neighborhood loan sharks.

“If you’re focused on that market, you’ll make money,” Meeks told the group, mostly employees of financial companies and industry-supported nonprofits focused on “financial inclusion.”

Read on.

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