WASHINGTON, DC — Today the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) vs Community Financial Services Association of America (CFSA). The lawsuit brought by the predatory lending industry aims to scrap the CFPB’s independent funding structure, setting the stage for the MAGA House Majority to defang and defund the CFPB on behalf of their financial industry mega-donors. The industry front groups and right-wing lawmakers cheering on the lawsuit are desperate to distract from its real motive: rolling back consumer protections for millions of Americans. But the more layers peeled away from the plaintiffs in this case, the clearer the motive becomes. Today government watchdog Accountable.US spotlights the CFSA board member companies with histories of criminal behavior or involvement in corruption and ethics scandals, including racketeering convictions, Ponzi scheme payouts, and payments to disgraced politicians.
If ever there was a time to consider the source, it’s this lawsuit. A gang of predatory payday lenders that include convicted racketeers and accused tax cheats, embezzlers and scam artists want the Supreme Court to tie up the CFPB in knots of political obstruction and hamper the agency’s work protecting consumers. These loan sharks notorious for charging as much as 1,200 percent interest rates are not the honest brokers and constitutional champions the financial industry and their lackeys in Congress make them out to be. If the Supreme Court sides with the criminals, crooks and predatory lenders behind this case, it would open the door to the worst rollback of consumer protection in U.S. history and mass uncertainty for the markets and other agencies.”
Accountable.US’ Liz Zelnick
Accountable.US new ‘Defend American Consumers’ project has detailed how CFSA board member companies, and their affiliated subsidiaries and parent companies, have paid over $204 million in fines and restitution to federal and state regulators, while paying at least $3.4 million in settlements from class action lawsuits against them.
Today In Focus: these companies’ histories of criminal behavior or involvement in corruption and ethics scandals, including racketeering convictions, Ponzi scheme payouts, and payments to disgraced politicians:
- Amscot Financial
○ Amscot Financial is a Tampa-based payday lender founded by Ian MacKechnie in 1986. According to his bio and IRS filings, MacKechnie serves on the board of the Community Financial Services Association of America and the Financial Service Centers of America, now known as INFiN. MacKechnie’s sons Fraser and Ian Jr. serve as the firm’s president & chief operating officer and vice chairman, respectively.
○ A review of the elder MacKechnie’s time as the head of Amscot shows a shady history of business dealings, including defrauding insurance policyholders. In August 1998, he pled guilty to racketeering after a sting operation revealed business associates “slid” unwanted add-ons to consumers without their knowledge, resulting in a lifetime ban from being able to sell insurance policies.
- QC Holdings or QCHI
○ QC Holdings or QCHI, a Kansas-based payday lender, is represented on the board of the Community Financial Services Association of America (CFSA) by its president and CEO Darrin J. Andersen, according to a 2021 990 IRS form.
○ QC Holdings was implicated in an investigation into former New Mexico official Demesia Padilla who resigned from office after an investigation into “tax evasion, embezzlement, and violations of the Governmental Conduct Act.” During the investigation, agents of the Office of the New Mexico Attorney General found nearly $48,000 in payments made to Padilla by QC Holdings. However, records found no corroboration that the money was for “rent” as lawyers for QC Holdings insisted.
- USA Cash Services
○ USA Cash Services, a Utah-based payday lender with APRs as high as 1,460%, is represented on the board of the Community Financial Services Association of America (CFSA) by its owner Kip Cashmore, according to a 2021 IRS form 990.
○ In a June 2011 email then-Utah Attorney General candidate John Swallow urged Cashmore to raise $100,000 from payday lenders and stated that if elected, he was “‘ready and willing to help lead out on that'” in reference to pushing back against federal regulations against payday lending. Swallow ultimately funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions through a web of nonprofits, including $100,000 from Cashmore’s company and other lenders. Only a year into his position as AG, Swallow resigned from his position following investigations into his “widespread ethics violations.”
○ Prior to Cashmore bundling money to Swallow, he was tied to a Ponzi scheme that defrauded 500 people out of $8 million. Two years after the head of the scheme was sent to prison in 1998, it was reported Cashmore—who was an Amway contractor at the time—made out with a whopping $475,000.
- CNG Holdings
○ In 2014, CNG chief government affairs officer John Rabenold was fined $2,000 after it was found he didn’t disclose lavish gifts to state lawmakers while a registered Ohio lobbyist for the affiliated Axcess Financial. Allegedly Rabenold did not disclose he purchased tickets to the Cincinnati Bengals and planned upscale dinners for lawmakers. During this time, he lobbied against efforts by lawmakers to regulate the payday lending industry.
MORE FROM ACCOUNTABLE.US:
- Thomas, Alito Recuse Based on Stocks, Former Clerks — But Not Glaring Conflicts of Interest
- Leo-Backed Groups Invested Millions to Defund CFPB Through SCOTUS
- 40+ Organizations Demand SCOTUS Recusals Ahead of New Term
- Report: Billionaire That Gifted Justice Alito Luxury Trip Holds At Least $90M in Financial Companies Overseen by CFPB
- Leading Consumer Advocates Discuss Bad Actors Behind Anti-CFPB SCOTUS Case & What Consumers Could Lose
- New Campaign Spotlights Predatory Lenders & Bad Actors Poised to Shutter CFPB at Consumers’ Expense
- Roundup of Conflicted Characters Cheerleading the Predatory Lender Lawsuit Against CFPB