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Finance

Ted Budd

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North Carolina Republican Rep. Ted Budd opposed consumer protections against predatory lending, despite his own state prohibiting the practice.

North Carolina Republican Senate nominee Ted Budd has consistently sided with predatory lenders and the payday lending industry, even though payday lending is banned in his state. The industry has rewarded him with thousands of dollars in campaign contributions.

Budd, currently serving his third term in the U.S. House of Representatives, is running against former North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley (D) this November for the open seat of retiring Republican Sen. Richard Burr. He calls himself a "liberal agenda crusher" who "will work for everyday families, not the elite or political insiders."

But Budd's record indicates otherwise. He has consistently supported lenders who prey on lower-income individuals using abusive repayment terms and exploitative tactics, practices that have been illegal in North Carolina for more than 20 years.

Many financial services companies offer payday or "cash advance" loans, short-term loans carrying a high interest rate based on anticipated income coming on the borrower's next payday.

North Carolina is among the states that have cracked down on these practices. According to its Justice Department, "North Carolina has some of the toughest laws against unfair loans in the nation and was the first state to adopt a comprehensive law against predatory home loans."

The state has prohibited payday loans since 2001. After state officials closed a loophole in 2006, payday lending shops stopped operating in the state entirely.

Republicans in Washington, D.C., have pushed to overrule those and other state regulations, at the behest of the lending industry. A rule enacted at the end of 2020 by then-President Donald Trump's administration allowed lenders to partner with banks from other states to avoid state restrictions.

The Democratic majorities in the House and Senate overturned the Trump administration rule in 2021. Budd and almost every other Republican voted to keep it in place.

In March 2018, Budd signed on as a co-sponsor of an effort to repeal a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau rule cracking down on payday, car title, and other high-cost loans.

In July 2020 and again in February 2021, Budd introduced a "Freedom from Regulations Act" that would have placed limitations on the actions of independent agencies, including the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

His spokesperson told the right-wing Epoch Times after the initial bill was filed that the effort was "focused on some of the most far-reaching and economically impactful regulations that independent agencies have implemented, like the CFPB's 2017 payday lending rule, the FCC's 'net neutrality' rule, the NLRB's joint-employer rule."

As Budd repeatedly sided with payday lenders, payday lenders repeatedly filled his campaign coffers.

He received at least $2,500 from the Community Financial Services Association of America PAC, the political arm for the payday lending industry's trade association. A spokesperson for the group did not immediately respond to an inquiry about the donations.

Budd's June 2022 campaign finance report noted thousands of dollars in PAC contributions from payday lending companies.

Some of the industry donations he received came within days of a key vote.

On May 4, 2017, Budd voted to advance the Financial CHOICE Act of 2017 out of the House Financial Services Committee. The package, which was mostly aimed at rolling back the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, included a section determining that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau "may not exercise any rulemaking, enforcement or other authority with respect to payday loans, vehicle title loans or other similar loans."

"They're trying to sneak in that provision," Diane Standaert, then executive vice president at the Center for Responsible Lending, told the Los Angeles Times. "It seems like they hoped no one would notice."

Several financial company executives donated to Budd that month, including at least one payday lender.

On May 31, he received $1,000 from Scott Wisniewski, the CEO of Western Shamrock Corporation, which offers paycheck advance loans and has been called a "predatory lender" by the advocacy group Texans for Public Justice.

A spokesperson for the company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Democratic nominee Beasley, who supports her state's ban, told the American Independent Foundation in an emailed statement, "Payday lenders have a long record of taking advantage of hard-working Americans, and it's unacceptable that Washington politicians like Ted Budd chose to take their campaign contributions instead of holding them accountable. In the Senate, I will always stand up to corporate special interests to protect North Carolinians from predatory lenders."

Budd has a history of siding with his donors over his North Carolina constituents.

He accepted contributions from pharmaceutical interests within days of voting against a bill to lower prescription drug prices in 2019 and took cash from the oil and gas sector a day before voting not to prohibit price gouging by the industry.

Budd's spokespeople did not respond to an inquiry for this story.

Reprinted with permission from American Independent.

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Donald Trump

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Former President Donald Trump quietly removed himself from the board of his budding social media venture shortly before it was hit with federal subpoenas "by both the Securities and Exchange Commission and a grand jury in Manhattan," documents obtained exclusively by The Sarasota Herald-Tribune have revealed.

On Thursday, the Florida newspaper reported that on June 8, Trump, the then-chairman of Trump Media and Technology Group, joined five other executives – "Kashyap Patel, Trump's former point man in the White House; Scott Glabe, a former assistant to Trump who was counsel for the media company; and Donald Trump, Jr." – in a mass exodus from the organization.

"The SEC served Trump Media and Technology Group with a subpoena on June 27th, according to a regulatory filing," the Herald-Tribune learned. "Trump's media company owns Truth Social, an app similar to Twitter. Trump was banned by Twitter for inflammatory remarks concerning the insurrection."


Correspondent Chris Anderson uncovered another subpoena issued by the Southern District of New York on July 1st, suggesting that a "potential criminal investigation is in progress." He explained that "the investigations appear to be related to a proposed merger between Trump's media company and a blank-check company called Digital World Acquisitions Corp., according to a recent regulatory filing."

What caught the attention of regulators, Anderson wrote, was that Digital World and Trump Media and Technology Group were engaged in "premature" discussions about fundraising for their merger, which is prohibited before a venture officially goes public.

The amount of money in play was not mere chump change, either.

Anderson pointed out that "the merger between the two companies could reportedly mean $1.3 billion in capital and a listing on the stock exchange for the new company, according to the New York Times." He added that Digital World's top brass received concurrent subpoenas.

"According to Digital World's filing, the grand jury subpoenas served on Trump's company were seeking a 'subset of the same or similar documents demanded in subpoenas to Digital World and its directors," Anderson found. "The SEC's subpoena, according to a filing, seeks 'documents relating to, among other things, Digital World and other potential counterparties for a business transaction involving TMTG.'"

Several unnamed TMTG personnel were also served, and while TMTG said that it "will continue cooperating fully with inquiries into our planned merger and will comply with subpoenas we've recently received, none of which were directed at the company's chairman or CEO," it never acknowledged Trump's departure. It did, however, disclose who some of its leaders are.

"Former California Congressman Devin Nunes is listed as the media company's CEO. A businessman named Phillip Juhan is the company's CFO," Anderson gleaned from the records. "They are now the only two board members listed, both using the same Sarasota office address."

The physical location of TMTG is relatively sketchy too.

"A visit to the office by the Herald-Tribune on June 27th revealed Trump's company name was not on the registry in the main lobby, nor was there any reference to the name at the office suite itself. There was no receptionist either, just a note to ring the doorbell for assistance," Anderson discovered. "The visit to the office by the Herald-Tribune took place on the same day the SEC served Trump's company with the subpoena."

The absence of Trump's name from the building's roster – as well as the opacity behind why TMTG chose Sarasota – only adds to the curiousness of the circumstances, Anderson noted.

"It is still not known why Trump selected Sarasota as home to his company, though it is close proximately to Rumble, the video media platform company used by Truth Social," Anderson wrote. "Rumble is located on Longboat Key, 11 miles from Trump Media's headquarters."

The story continues here.

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.