Arizona Payday Lenders Caught Fraudulently Getting Petition Signatures

As reported in The Arizona Republic:

Heavy lobbying

…And it follows on the heels of an aggressive campaign to open up Arizona to flexible-credit loans. Backers of the quick-loan industry, many of whom offer payday loans in other states, hired Axiom, a lobbying and consulting firm with ties to Ducey, to shepherd the bill through the Legislature. Industry representatives have contributed to lawmakers’ campaigns, rallied community members to speak for the bill and gathered petitions in support of flexible loans.

“Traditional banks do not serve this group,” stated the petitions, delivered to all 90 lawmakers. “And while there are auto title loans and pawn shop-style loans available, not everyone has assets or a vehicle in their name to register as collateral.”

Democrats seized on this as “astroturf,” or an effort to make something look like a grassroots campaign. They dug through the petitions, called people who signed them and discovered many of those people said they did not know about the bill, but were simply signing something when they visited a lending store.

Earlier this week, Rep. Debbie McCune Davis, D-Phoenix, asked Attorney General Mark Brnovich to investigate the Arizona Financial Choice Association for misrepresenting the bill’s intent in the petitions. The petitions did not mention the interest rate, and she cited the Democrats’ research as evidence that the industry was deliberately misleading consumers and lawmakers.

Brnovich’s office has not yet reviewed the complaint.