I expected the payday lenders to bomb our airwaves, billboards, and mailboxes with propaganda to trick the voters into voting No on Initiated Measure 21, the real 36% rate cap, and/or Yes on Amendment U, the payday lenders’ fake 18% rate cap that actually writes unlimited interest rates into our state constitution. Strangely, that media blitz has not happened. As far as I know (and I welcome reader information to the contrary), the payday lenders haven’t fired a public shot over the ballot questions since losing their petition lawsuit in August.
I say strangely because, according to campaign finance reports, Rod Aycox’s Select Management Resources has poured another $637,000 into its South Dakota ballot question committees for U and against 21.
- Lisa Furlong’s pre-general campaign finance report from October 28 shows $98,010 from SMR.
- Bradley Thuringer’s pre-general report from October 28 shows $139,475.05 from SMR.
- Thuringer’s supplemental statement from November 1 shows $400,000 from SMR.
- Total: $637,485.05.
Furlong burned up just about $101K on salaries and consulting (funny: pro-usury spinster Pat Powers hasn’t peeped about that consulting expense). Add $3K in cash on hand in the pre-primary report, and Furlong’s committee is down to $370.25.
Add yesterday’s $400K contribution, and Thuringer’s committee has over $522K to spend opposing IM 21.
So how do you spend half a million dollars in the last six days before an election? TV and radio space may all be bought up. Newspaper ads need to be in by Thursday or Friday to make Monday’s edition (and Tuesday? Election Day? Seriously? Your ad will only reach half as many people before they vote as your Monday ad will). Billboards take more than a week to print, and I’m willing to bet that even the digital billboards are already spoken for.
Perhaps it’s time for Lawnmower Man to make the phones ring. If the payday lenders plan to propagandize at this point, their surest bet may be robocalls. They’ll ring every persuadable voter directly and lie straight-faced right into our ears.
Or maybe they’re just saving up to go Trump and sue over the election results. Nielson Brothers Polling finds IM 21 winning (39%–26%) and U losing (24%–45%), so why fight a costly statewide battle to win 87% of undecideds on U or 71% of undecideds on 21 when you could focus your money and energy on one judge? The payday lenders won’t care if they have a case; they’ll enjoy the chaos and squeeze profits out of every extra day that they can delay certification of the results.
Hmmm… if payday lenders have $46 billion in annual revenue, and if their business is proportional to population, then in one day of operation in South Dakota, payday lenders make ($46B ÷ 365 days ÷ 320M US pop × 850K SD pop = ) about $330K per day in South Dakota. Sue over the election, stall the certification of the results and the enactment of a voter-approved 36% rate cap by two days, and the lawsuit pays back the money sitting in Aycox’s South Dakota ballot question committees right now. Stall enactment of IM 21 until January 1, maybe 40 days later than an approved ballot measure would usually take effect, and Rod Aycox and his industry pals make almost $14 million more than a normally enacted IM 21 would allow.
And if the Electoral College vote is close and South Dakota’s big three Electoral votes matter, who cares? Rod Aycox has money to make. An election thrown into chaos, like the payday lenders’ outright lies and bullying, is a trifling price to pay for padding the loan sharks’ pockets on the way to their next scam.
Related Filings: Brett Koenecke and Katie Hruska of the May, Adama, Gerdes, and Thompson law firm in Pierre organized Credit for South Dakotans last week to oppose IM 21. Payday-lender lobbyist Koenecke previously created and terminated an anti-21 ballot question committee that took no known public action on the ballot measures. The good guys in this fight— the Hildebrand/Nesiba committess of South Dakotans for Responsible Lending and No on U and the Brechtelsbauer/Crowley committees of YES on 21 and NO on “U”sury—appear to have collectively raised a bit over $50K, spent over $41K, received $4.5K in in-kind assistance, and have $8.6K left to wage war this week.
Stephen Minister of Sioux Falls also formed two committees last Tuesday to tackle the payday lending questions, Shame on U and South Dakotans for 21. Only his statements of organization are online; the SOS shows no report of financial activity by Minister yet.