State Senator Wendy Davis, likely the Democratic nominee for governor, has called for the head of the Texas Finance Commission to resign, or for Gov. Perry to remove him.
Davis' action follows comments that Cash America Vice President William White made to a reporter following the December meeting of the Finance Commission in Austin.
Payday lenders, like other financials, are under the oversight of the Texas Finance Commission, and in 2009, White was appointed chairman of that commission.
"And in 2011, I spoke out very strongly about his appointment to that commission," said Davis.
Now, Davis, who wants to be governor, is calling for White's resignation.
When asked if payday lenders in Texas profit by making people poor, White is quoted in an El Paso Times article as saying, in part, "People make decisions. There's nobody out there that forces anybody to take any kind of loan. People are responsible for their decisions…"
"His comments clearly revealed a complete insensitivity and absolutely demonstrated his conflict of interest," said Davis.
Cash America is one of the largest in the payday lending arena, and last month, it agreed to $19 million in fines and refunds in sanctions for abusive practices.
"I think it might be a little premature to call for his resignation, but I do think it warrants further investigation and consideration," said Republican State Senator John Carona.
Carona has, like Davis, tried to reform the industry without legislative success.
"And frankly, it's been a very frustrating process to see just how politically strong the payday and auto title lending industry has become," said Carona.
Gov. Perry said that Sen. Davis calling for White's resignation is "...nothing but grandstanding from a political campaign...and statute requires a member from the industry to serve on the board."
Attorney General Greg Abbott, who is seeking Republican nomination for governor, goes further in an email, saying, "Sen. Wendy Davis' statement is blatant election-year hypocrisy. Perhaps unknown to Sen. Davis, state law mandates that industry executives serve on the Finance Commission, and Sen. Davis voted to confirm William White to his position. Sen. Davis also had two opportunities to amend bills pertaining to the requirements to serve on the Commission, and both times Sen. Davis chose not to do so. Before calling for the resignations of those she voted to confirm, Sen. Davis might take a hard look at a her own record."
"Tell that to the people across the State of Texas who are trapped in these loans," said Davis.
There are people who, were it not for payday lenders, would not make it.
Abbott, in his email to FOX 4, offered no opinion on whether White should be removed or resign as the commission chairman.
Carona talked about how powerful the industry has become, and that includes politically.
According to Lobby Watch, during the past two Texas elections, the lending industry has poured in $4 million to Texas officeholders of both parties.
KDFW FOX 4
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