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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Wasserman Schultz faces more heat over payday lenders

Billboards in South Florida

Allied Progress

Billboards in South Florida



A liberal group advocating for more regulation of payday lenders has launched electronic billboards in Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s South Florida district, accusing her of siding with a predatory industry.

“Debbie is on their side,” reads the billboard depicting the Democrat with a neon green “payday loans” sign. “Not his,” it continues with a picture of President Barack Obama.

The billboards have been placed on the Florida turnpike and I-75, according to Allied Progress, which accuses Wasserman Schultz of trying to thwart regulations under the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, championed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Obama.

Wasserman Schultz, who like other Florida lawmakers have received considerable financial support from the industry, is a sponsor of a bill that would block rules in Florida. She says existing law is working in the state, though critics dispute that.

A number of other Florida House members support the bill with her, including Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Lakeland, and Patrick Murphy, the Democratic U.S. Senate candidate from Jupiter. Murphy’s opponent, Alan Grayson of Orlando, has not signed on.

“President Obama has shown he’s on the side of hardworking Americans by encouraging the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to hold payday lenders accountable,” Allied Progress executive director Karl Frisch said in a release. “In a stunning contrast, Rep. Wasserman Schultz has accepted tens-of-thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from these predators – often within weeks of taking official actions to benefit the industry – and is now working with radical conservatives to help gut the CFPB’s efforts to stop the worst abuses of these payday lenders.”

Wasserman Schultz has already faced a TV ad and her Democratic primary opponent has hammered her on the issue. Records show she has gotten more than $68,000 in campaign contributions from the industry.

“The cosponsors of H.R. 4018 believe Florida's model and experience can be instructive to CFPB as it considers its national rulemaking,” Sean Bartlett, Wasserman Schutlz’s communications director, told the Tampa Bay Times last month.

[Last modified: Monday, April 4, 2016 2:41pm]


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