JEFFERSON CITY – A Kansas City-based nonprofit has donated more than $2 million to a political committee whose sole purpose is to oppose tougher restrictions on short-term lending, such as payday or car title loans.
They nonprofit – called Missourians for Responsible Government – made an $181,500 donation to the committee on Monday. It has been the only donor to Missourians for Equal Credit Opportunity, giving roughly $2.1 million since August.
Patrick Tuohey, a communications specialist who recently became press secretary for Republican Sarah Steelman’s U.S. Senate campaign, founded Missourians for Responsible Government. Because the organization is a nonprofit, it is not required to disclose where its money came from.
The money is being used to fight a proposed ballot measure that would cap the annual interest rates on short-term loans at 36 percent. A Missouri Division of Finance study conducted in 2007 found average interest rate for a payday loan in Missouri is 445 percent annually, which is higher than the national average of 391 percent.
In April, a Cole County judge ruled the ballot summary and cost estimate of the proposed ballot measure were insufficient. However, the group pushing the measure continued their petition drive and collected enough signatures to put it on the November ballot.
The Missouri secretary of state’s office has appealed the judge’s decision, so the fate of the ballot measure is still unknown.
As for who is pouring money into the campaign opposing the measure, QC Holdings Inc., a payday lender based in Overland Park that operates primarily under the Quik Cash name, reported to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission earlier this year that it has already spent "substantial amounts opposing the efforts to place this initiative on the ballot."