If elected next month, will GOP gubernatorial nominee Bill Brady look out for low-income borrowers or high-cost lenders?
Late last week, the Brady campaign filed several A-1 campaign finance reports, which disclose recent contributions over $500. One of the larger donations, at $25,000, came from an innocuous sounding organization named the Consumer Lending Alliance. This group, based in Florida, is a payday lending industry trade organization that has showered almost $1 million on lawmakers across the country since 2003. Their primary target is Illinois, where legislators have taken in roughly $400,000, according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics. House Minority Leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego) and House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) are their two highest recipients nationwide, each bagging over $30,000. In 2008, Brady accepted a $2,000 contribution from the same group. Illinois Strategies LLC does their lobbying under the Capitol Dome.
Although the General Assembly passed a bill almost unanimously this spring that will close a major loophole in the state's 2005 Payday Loan Reform Act, a compromise with several industry trade groups that Brady ultimately supported, there's still a lot of work to be done to limit the excesses of payday lenders and expand access to responsible loan alternatives in Illinois. While Gov. Pat Quinn has fought his entire career to safeguard consumers, this donation should raise some red flags about whose interests Brady will ultimately advocate for.