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Billboards take Debbie Wasserman Schultz to task on payday loans

Advocates critical of Debbie Wasserman Schultz stance on payday lenders are amping up their campaign against her.

“‘Debt Trap Debbie’ is siding with payday lenders rather than President Obama,” is the message being displayed on two illuminated billboards placed in heavily used traffic routes in Wasserman Schultz’ South Florida congressional district. One billboard will be placed above the Florida turnpike, the other can be viewed while commuting on I-75,

Wasserman Schultz co-sponsored bipartisan legislation (H.R. 4018) that would delay the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s payday lending rules by two years and void a “deferred presentment transaction” in states with laws similar to Florida’s.

Payday loans are small, short-term loans that borrowers promise to repay out of their next paycheck at a high rate of interest. A year ago, President Barack Obama‘s Consumer Financial Protection Bureau listed an outline of payday loan rules. Washerman Schultz’ bill would kill those proposals.

The billboard campaign is being run by Allied Progress, an activist group headed by the longtime liberal activist Karl Frisch. Allied Progress ran an a television ad critical of Wasserman Schultz on the same issue in Florida and Washington, D.C., that aired in the week leading up to the Florida primary election last month.

“President Obama has shown he’s on the side of hardworking Americans by encouraging the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to hold payday lenders accountable,” Frisch said. “In a stunning contrast, Representative 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 is engaged in a contested Democratic primary against academic Tim Canova. On his website last month, Canova said, “My opponent, after taking hundreds of thousands of dollars from Goldman Sachs and other Wall Street banks, has voted to prevent the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFTP) from regulating payday loans and addressing racial discrimination in car loans.”

Canova made headlines on Monday when it was reported that he had raised more than $557,000 in the first quarter of this year. The CD 23 Democratic primary takes place in August.

Written By

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served five years as political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. Mitch also was assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley and is a San Francisco native who has lived in Tampa since 2000. Mitch can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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