Has Pay-To-Play Influenced Payday Loan Legislation? | WBEZ
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Eight Forty-Eight

Has Pay-To-Play Influenced Payday Loan Legislation?

There's been a lot of national fuss lately over Governor Rod Blagojevich, the U.S. Senate seat vacancy left by President-elect Barack Obama, and allegations that he tried to sell it. But the California-based watchdog organization Maplight.org says there's actually a more pervasive form of pay-to-play going on, and it's completely out in the open in legislatures around the country, and on Capitol Hill.

They say the fact that politicians routinely accept campaign cash from corporations and other interest groups naturally earns those contributors favors when it comes to crafting and voting on legislation. Specifically here in Illinois, Maplight.org points to the Payday Loan Reform Act passed nearly unanimously, and signed by Blagojevich in 2005.

In a nationwide study on campaign funds and payday legislation, Maplight.org found that Blagojevich received more than $170,000 from the payday lending industry between 2001 and 2006. On top of that, a vast majority of Illinois legislators received funds from the industry.

The law places restrictions on payday lending, but Maplight.org argues that the limits could have been much more stringent.

In response, the Governor's office says that the legislation was, in fact, quite strong, and was supported by Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn as well as the AARP.

But Maplight.org founder and executive director Dan Newman says that overall, the data speaks for itself.

Music Button: Sam Butera, "The Boulevard of Broken Dreams", from the CD Bachelor Pad Royale, (Capitol records)

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