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Payday loansPayday lenders (and other short-term lenders) along with their trade associations have spent more than $13 million on lobbying and campaign donations since 2013, according to a new report put out by the Americans for Financial Reform (AFR).

The report is particularly troubling because it comes at a time when the government is finally beginning to crack down on “quick-fix” lenders, who are known for trapping vulnerable cash-strapped borrowers in cycles of debt by charging obscenely high fees in exchange for an immediate payout. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is expected to announce a set of rules next year that could bring dramatic changes to the payday lending market. Additionally, the Department of Justice has been zeroing in on banks and payment processors that knowingly facilitate fraud. The only enforcement action brought by the Justice Department in this operation (known as “Operation Choke Point”) so far has been in North Carolina. The Four Oaks Bank & Trust of North Carolina in collaboration with a Texas-based payments company was found to have processed around $2.4 billion in illegal transactions including those benefiting payday lenders. Read More

Lunch Links

Lunch sandwichHappy Friday, campers! With the dog days of summer going full steam, we’re sure a lot of you are staying at your computers these days rather than venturing out in the mid-day humidity. So, as a service to our desk-bound, PB&J-consuming audience, The Progressive Pulse is happy to announce the return of Lunch Links – a daily dose of quick takes that will connect you to the important, the aggravating and the entertaining. Enjoy!

We’ll begin with North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis. One of the Triangle’s most intrepid journalists, Kirk Ross over at the Carolina Mercury, has the first thorough review of the wannabe U.S. Senator’s new campaign finance report in a story entitled “Speaker’s Senate fundraising raises questions.”

And speaking of prominent state officials pondering higher office, Attorney General Roy Cooper’s new activism in opposition to the voter suppression bill passed by the General Assembly is sparking speculation that Cooper is cranking up a 2016 challenge to Pat McCrory. If it’s true, Cooper would seem likely to be a formidable candidate.

And speaking of the current Guv, Read More