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Payday lenders support pro-Romney 'super PAC' Restore Our Future

March 20, 2012|By Melanie Mason and Matea Gold
  • Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney holds a town-hall campaign meeting on the campus of Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney holds a town-hall campaign… (Chip Somodevilla / Getty…)

Reporting from Washington — A "super PAC" supporting Mitt Romney has won the backing of another corner of the financial sector: payday lenders.

Seven payday loan companies donated a total of $162,500 to Restore Our Future in February, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission on Tuesday. All the donations were recorded in the first week of the month, in increments ranging from $2,500 to $35,000.

Restore Our Future declined to comment on the donations and their timing.

A spokesman for the largest payday lender also declined to comment.

“We don’t discuss any details related to political contributions,” said Jamie Fulmer, vice president for public affairs at Advance America. The company, based in South Carolina, gave $25,000 to the group on Feb. 6.

“We certainly expect any candidate or political action committee to comply with all rules and regulations as it relates to disclosure,” he added.

All but one of the companies made the donations under their own names. But Seattle-based Moneytree gave through a separate entity, Katsam LLC (mispelled as Katsum in the filing). Katsam is registered in Washington state to Dennis and David Bassford, Moneytree’s co-founders. The FEC filing lists an address for Katsam that is the same as that of Moneytree.

Payday lenders have come under scrutiny for offering short-term loans at triple-digit annual interest rates, sometimes at the financial peril of their customers, according to watchdog groups.

In January, Richard Cordray, the new director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, has said that the agency, created by the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial overhaul legislation, would step up its oversight of the industry.

On the campaign trail, Mitt Romney has said that he would repeal Dodd-Frank if elected. 

In all, Restore Our Future raised $6.4 million in February from 100 donors, with $3 million coming from just one contributor: Texas home builder and Republican patron Bob Perry.

Perry, who had already donated $3.6 million to GOP super PACs for the 2012 race, is the third biggest donor so far in this election cycle, trailing only Dallas billionaire Harold Simmons and Las Vegas mogul Sheldon Adelson and his family.

Simmons ponied up another $100,000 last month for Restore Our Future, making his total give to the pro-Romney group $200,000 -- modest compared with the $12 million he and his company have given during this cycle to the Republican-allied American Crossroads.

Restore Our Future also got $100,000 in February from Raymond Ruddy, a wealthy Massachusetts conservative who funds anti-abortion and abstinence causes. Former Univision Inc. Chairman A. Jerrold Perenchio gave the super PAC $500,000. Last year, a trust he controls gave $2 million to American Crossroads.

Restore Our Future, which was set up by former aides to the onetime Massachusetts governor, has been the main vehicle for pounding Romney’s rivals for the GOP nomination. The super PAC spent $12.2 million in February -- the vast majority on direct mail pieces, phone banks and ads attacking former Pennsylvania Gov. Rick Santorum.

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Pro-Romney 'super PAC' Restore Our Future gets payday lender support

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