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AG Issues Fake-18%-Rate-Cap Explanation One Month Early; Furlong Lies in Press Release

I should have known better. Rather than finding some legal hammer to drop on Lisa Furlong and her belligerentlying petitioners for trying to sabotage South Dakota’s initiative process, Attorney General Marty Jackley has handed the payday lenders for whom she’s fronting a summer gift, issuing his explanation of their fake 18%-rate-cap initiative a month ahead of the legal deadline.

I reported the exact language of the Furlong amendment last month. AG Jackley provides this official explanation:

Under this constitutional amendment, there is no limit on the amount of interest a lender may charge for a loan of money if the interest rate is agreed to in writing by the borrower. If there is no written agreement, however, a lender may not charge more than 18% interest per year. A law setting an interest rate for loans is not valid unless the law gives the lender and the borrower the ability to agree to a different rate. If an interest rate for loans is established by law, it must apply to every type of lender.

The amendment eliminates the ability to set statutory interest rates that are inconsistent with this amendment [Attorney General Marty Jackley, official explanation of Lisa Furlong’s fake 18%-rate-cap initiative, 2015.08.10].

Let me elaborate on the AG’s explanation: if passed, this constitutional amendment would annul the genuine 36%-rate-cap initiated law already being petitioned by Steve Hildebrand, Steve Hickey, and South Dakotans for Responsible Lending. Furlong’s amendment would only interest rates on verbal handshake loans. I’m willing to wager that no one walks out of a payday lending shop without signing a piece of paper, which means Furlong’s amendment won’t affect payday lenders’ predatory business practices one bit.

In other words, the payday lenders must know that, given an honest ballot measure, South Dakotans would vote them out of business. The payday lenders thus must resort to beating us at the polls, not by honestly arguing the merits of their business, but by throwing a decoy measure onto the ballot meant to trick us into writing their loan sharking into our state constitution and taking away our ability to pass any further laws to regulate their interest rates.

Dang, that’s devious… exactly the kind of deviousness it takes to profit off poverty and desperation by making payday loans.

Notice that Lisa Furlong lies in her press release on the AG’s explanation, pretending that an 18% rate cap that can be negated with the stroke of any borrower’s pen is “strict”:

People have a right to be treated fairly.  By supporting this constitutional amendment, we will bring fairness to the lending process, while protecting the people of South Dakota’s rights as consumers.

Our measure places a strict 18% cap on interest rates, far more stringent than that of other measures being proposed.  Additionally, our measure takes the extra step of amending the South Dakota constitution, which will ensure that the cap placed on interest rates is not later removed or weakened. Other measures being circulated simply make changes to statutes, which can be easily altered and undermined.

Our supporters and volunteers are ready to get to work collecting the needed signatures to have this common sense measure placed on the ballot and we appreciate the work of the Attorney General and his staff in issuing the explanation of our measure in a timely manner [Lisa Furlong, press release, reported by Pat Powers, Dakota War College, 2015.08.10].

Fairnesscommon sense… rarely will you hear words used with such disregard for their meaning. But such is the nature of the payday-lender beast we are fighting.

Honest petitioners, saddle up. Our mission now is educate voters about the big lie Lisa Furlong and her decoy petitioners are telling to undermine out initiative process and thwart the will of South Dakota voters.

p.s.: Notice that Pat Powers leapt to publish Furlong’s deceitful press release and the AG’s explanation, complete with his own deceptive effort to graft onto this fake rate cap the term “informed consent,” akin to ethical medical practice. But Powers irresponsibly said not one word about Furlong’s effort to sabotage legitimate petitioning for the genuine 36% rate cap at the Sioux Empire Fair with her fake petitioners. Powers thus demonstrates that he cares more about protecting his failing ideology and his rich friends and not one whit about defending the integrity of petitions and the electoral process.

19 Comments

  1. Steve Hickey 2015-08-10

    Thanks for good reporting. Pat’s reporting is lousy on this subject as you note. We should be for a good policy making process in SD whichever side of an issue we are on. Good reporting should expose the greasy, amoral, greedy (and often out of state) crap we are seeing here. For shame on those who are behind these sham decoys intended only to confuse the public and keep the status quo for a slimy industry. And shame on those who look the other way. What should be happening is both sides should be slamming these scuzballs.

    Best way to fight them is to go circulate a petition sheet or two for the 36% rate cap, notarize them and send them in. Turn your disgust into that productive outcome. Thanks.

  2. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-08-10

    I’ve got five sheets for you so far, Steve. More to come.

  3. leslie 2015-08-10

    lisa says her people are “ready to get to work” disregarding their work last week soliciting signatures at the sx falls fair.

    greedy, unprincipled people these furlongs appear to be. hmmmm republicans, ever the spinners, and it is too late, as jackley is apparently already in her service, paid for by ALL the citizens of SD.

  4. Jason Sebern 2015-08-10

    2016 will be a referendum on the:
    1. Payday Lending Industry
    2. South Dakota electorate

  5. Rorschach 2015-08-10

    This petition and those behind it are as crooked as they come. But I don’t fault the AG’s explanation. He explained it fairly without slanting it. His job is not to write an explanation comparing and contrasting it with the real payday lender cap, but to explain it as a stand alone ballot issue. Now it’s up to the real petition petitioners to make sure voters know the difference between the two. If they can do that effectively, the real petition will pass, but what then? I suspect the legislature will just come back and put the fake petition’s permissive language in law anyway.

  6. 96Tears 2015-08-10

    How predictable. Jackley’s GOP protection services allowed the scammers involved with Mike Rounds’ EB-5 fleecing racket get away with it. Now the GOP protection umbrella extends to the loan sharks and their powerful pals.

    If you got the money, honey, Jackley’s got the protection service.

  7. jerry 2015-08-10

    Marty is in on the fix. Hide and watch as the numbers come in and it is defeated. They will then go to the legislature to screw South Dakotan’s just like they did with the minimum wage. The whole lot is organized crime that will do its damnedest to squeeze more from the poor.

  8. caheidelberger 2015-08-10

    My complaint isn’t with the AG’s text—indeed, it makes clear the opt-out provision. My complaint is that he turned this petition around in 30 days, but he took pretty much the full 60 days to release his explanation of the genuine 36% rate cap petition, delaying Steve and Steve’s circulating time.

  9. grudznick 2015-08-10

    Mr. H, I said a while back that I thought these devious fellows had more tricks up their sleeves. I repeat that belief now. These devious fellows have more tricks coming. Just grudznick’s opinion, but I’m usually right. Just sayin…

  10. jerry 2015-08-10

    Mr. Grudznick, the tricks up their sleeves are called legislators. They can be pulled at a moments notice that trump all of the rest of the cards. The legislators, with the exception now of the good Rev., all want you to focus on their three card monte so you can follow the illusion like the working poor do with the 500% loan sharking in the shady industry that destroys them.

  11. Reynold Nesiba 2015-08-11

    This decoy petition does offer a choice. Should we allow the people of South Dakota to set the rules of the game for finance (including the setting of a maximum loan rate) in this state or leave it up to the out-of-state payday bosses? Vote yes if you think we should trust the payday bosses. Vote no if you think that the South Dakota state motto, “Under God the people rule” rings true. It is the people versus the payday bosses and it is the people that get to vote. I’m confident that the voters can see through this. I’m encouraged by number of people who saw our sign up at the fair and say “hell yeah I want to sign this to cap the rate on payday lenders.” They then go on to tell financial horror stories about their friend/brother/spouse/or self whose life was destroyed because of an impulsive decision to borrow $500.

  12. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-08-11

    Get those people’s stories on the record, Reynold. Put those stories on YouTube, pick the best for the TV and radio campaign. Also be ready with some ads to educate voters as to the difference between the real 36% cap and the trick 18% non-cap. Folks who take time to read the Attorney General’s explanation should be able to see the difference and vote Yes on 36, No on 18.

  13. MD 2015-08-11

    I walked into a payday loan establishment in Fargo yesterday because a friend of mine needed to pick up a large amount of money from Western Union. This was a first for me and hopefully the only visit I will have to make.
    I think the most tragic part of the experience was the two people who came in after us were both addressed by name by the teller. It was obviously not their first “short term” lending experience and likely will not be their last.
    The decoy petition is yet again another example of how this industry preys on the less informed public and serves as an immense burden on society.

  14. SammyG 2015-08-11

    I’m not defending the paday industry at all, but I have to ask, why isn’t anybody having a real debate about the underlying issue. Why are we expecting the government to save people from themselves? Just because they have high interest rates doesn’t mean we should put them out of business. Whatever happened to keeping the government out of your private business and personal life? If I walk into a payday loan center and apply for a loan and acknowledge the interest I will have to pay back, then by all means, am I not anymore than an adult consenting to make a financial agreement with other adults? What crime is anybody committing just because it’s a “bad deal”…
    To me the bigger issue here is the liberal mentality that we must legislative our peers to protect them from their own stupidity or bad decisions, and that my friends is not the role of government.
    Like I said, I’m not defending the payday lenders, they might be sharks and might have piss poor morals, but if they’re not deceiving their customers and they’re open about the rates they will pay back then the customers are consenting to it through their own free will… no crime no reason to legislate or petition it into a crime…
    -sammyG

  15. Deb Geelsdottir 2015-08-11

    Hickey, I have one quibble with you: “Scuzzballs” is spelled with two Zs. It is, however, an aptly descriptive word for them. Keep up the good work.

  16. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-08-12

    SammyG, I’ll entertain the question. The free will argument is used to invite and excuse all sorts of exploitation. I’m not sure free will is wholly at play when we’re talking about people in such desperate financial straits that they would consider using such inferior, exploitative financial products. It’s like prostitution: fundamentally, yes, every woman who chooses to let a man have sex with her for money is making a choice, but that “choice” is so often made in a context of desperation and coercion that we can’t apply the same moral standards we would to our daily exercise of free will in the marketplace. Even though we can conceive of situations where a woman might quite freely choose to sell her body for money, we outlaw the profession due to endemic exploitation and abuse.

  17. Douglas Wiken 2015-08-12

    SammyG is demonstrating the irrelevance of political mythology in the real world.

  18. larry kurtz 2015-08-13

    How much did Furlong’s group pay PP for the plug?

  19. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-08-14

    By law, Larry, we should be able to look up the answer to that question on Lisa Furlong’s year-end campaign finance report, which she has to file by the end of next January.

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