Monday, June 25, 2012

Clergy, community leaders take aim at payday industry and its hired guns

(From Progress Missouri)

Faith leaders, workers, community leaders and representatives of Missourians for Responsible Lending and Give Missourians a Raise today expressed optimism and confidence that the Missouri Supreme Court would uphold the rights of 350,000 Missourians who signed initiative petitions this year to cap payday loan interest rates and raise the state minimum wage.

More than 350,000 signatures were submitted to the Secretary of State in May for the two petitions, despite an outrageous and unprecedented opposition campaign financed by undisclosed payday lending corporations and their allies. 

“The payday lending industry and their hired guns have threatened churches and faith leaders, harassed voters on the streets, and worked to disenfranchise the citizens who signed petitions,” said Valerie Gordon, a home care attendant in St. Louis.  “The lawsuits heard today are just another front in their no-holds-barred campaign, and we expect the people’s voice to be heard in court, just as they were on the petitions collected across the state.”

“The thousands of Missourians involved with these campaigns are completely devoted to making sure voters have a chance to be heard in November,” said Rev. James Bryan, Treasurer of Missourians for Responsible Lending.  “We expect all of the valid signatures submitted to the Secretary of State to be counted.”  

“These initiatives are important step forward to an economy that works for all of us,” said Rev. Dr. James T. Morris, Treasurer of Give Missourians a Raise.  “As payday lending executives and other CEOs get richer, regular people in Missouri are struggling to make ends meet across Missouri.  It’s wrong to pay people less than $8 an hour and charge them 400% interest rates. Our signatures will be counted and our voices will be heard -- this is about making sure our neighbors and family members are able to live with dignity.”  

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