Barbara Shelly

Never mind the big banks, Kevin Yoder’s bigger payday is from payday lenders

For the short-term lending industry, payday extends to politicians.
For the short-term lending industry, payday extends to politicians. Bloomberg News

We’ve been spilling some ink lately (so to speak) about U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder and his relationship with the big banks.

Yoder carried a controversial amendment pushed by the Wall Street banks that got passed in the $1.1 trillion “cromnibus” spending bill that cleared Congress and was signed by President Barack Obama on Tuesday.

The amendment essentially makes it easier for big banks to make risky transactions. So that got people looking at the amount of money Yoder, a Republican from Kansas, received from those banks, and it’s relatively high in comparison with other members of Congress.

But Yoder’s $29,000 in contributions from the four big banks — Bank of America, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Chase — pales in comparison to what he received from a different segment of the finance industry. That would be the payday lenders.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Yoder received $53,257 from the payday loan industry in the 2014 election cycle. That makes him the second leading recipient. Only U.S. Rep. Jeb Hensarling, a Republican from Texas, received more, with $66,500. U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins, another Kansas Republican, appears as the sixth biggest recipient, with $30,800.

The largest chunk of Yoder’s payday from the payday lenders came from QC Holdings, based in Overland Park. With $10,000 coming from the company’s political action committee and $29,257 from individuals associated with the business, QC Holdings was Yoder’s second largest overall contributor. (The Kansas City-based Burns & McDonnell engineering firm was the largest.)

Yoder received $2,500 from the Online Lenders Alliance, which originated in Johnson County. Its contributions have dropped recently as a number of the big players have run into serious legal problems.

In 2013, Yoder showed up as a lead signature on a letter to Department of Justice officials, in which 31 members of Congress complained about efforts to stop commercial banks from processing transactions from online lenders.

Such actions, the letter said, “adversely impact tens of millions of low-income American families who depend on short-term credit provided by online lenders because they do not qualify for traditional loans or credit cards.” Never mind that, in many cases, these online lending operations drained consumers’ checking accounts with unreasonable interest rates and undisclosed fees, and then harassed them when they could no longer pay.

I’ve asked Yoder’s office if it wants to comment on his relationship with payday lenders and will update if there is a response. During the campaign, when I asked the congressman about his donations from payday lenders, he noted that his predecessor, Democrat Dennis Moore, also received a good share of money from the industry, in particular QC Holdings.

The takeaway is that Yoder is in favor with finance industry, from the top echelons down to the seamier side. So maybe it shouldn’t be so surprising when he gets involved in legislation that favors different types of lenders.

To reach Barbara Shelly, call 816-234-4594 or send email to bshelly@kcstar.com. On Twitter @bshelly.

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