Owner of 6 Payday Lending Companies Files Complaint of State Law Violations in Interest Caps

Montana – Bernie Harrington was the owner of at least six no credit check payday loans companies in and around Billings, Montana. Therefore, when the 2010 Initiative 164 was promoted, voted on, and passed to cap interest rates on all payday loans, he was ready to put up a fight. Well, he succeeded by filing a complaint with the State Political Practices Commissioner’s office.

Jim Murry, the Commissioner, then had to investigate the claims brought by Harrington. Commissioner Murry did find some minor, technical violations, but violations nonetheless. No credit check payday loan opposition groups in how they promoted the Initiative 164 made these violations. There were eight of these groups who violated Montana’s champing rules on the “I-164: 400 Percent Interest Is Too High” campaign. The possible fines could remain at the current $2,430 dollars, but they are still under negotiations. The eight groups and their projected fines are as follows:

  • AARP Montana – $150.00
  • Montana Women Vote – $250.00
  • NeighborWorks Montana – So far only a negligent amount
  • Montana Community Foundation– $200.00
  • Women’s Foundation of Montana – (Montana Community Foundation’s endowment fund and share the fine)
  • Cap the Rate – $1,500.00
  • Rural Dynamics Inc. – $100.00
  • Montana Human Rights Network – $230.00

 

These fines are a result of a simple oversight by the groups in non-disclosure issues, such as there not being the mandatory “paid for by” provision in their ads and websites. Other infractions included reporting their financial files in a timely manner.

Harrington, who brought the claims against the groups, is still unhappy and feels too much time has passed since his 2010 filings to make a difference. Also, Intuitive 164 will not be overturned, which was voted on and passed by 72 percent of the voters. There were only 28 percent who were against capping the rates at 36 percent on the no credit check payday loans. This caused more than 100 payday lending businesses in the state to close and/or move elsewhere.

Many feel the claims are just petty and spiteful and a waste of taxpayers’ money on the investigation, the county attorneys’ time, court costs, and any civil suits that could result. They feel Harrington was just seeking revenge, even though it was clear Montana residents did not want payday lenders to operate in their state and charge triple digit Annual Percentage Rates (APR) on their short term loans. Even residents feel this is a very backhanded move and should no longer be pursued, as they have spoken loud and clear with their votes.

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