Tuesday, November 01, 2016

State GOP: Koster took more than $200K from payday lenders, broke promise to crack down on them

(From the Missouri Republican Party)

Today the Missouri Republican Party released additional details about Chris Koster's lengthy history of pay-to-play corruption -- including Koster's refusal to crack down on payday lenders who have flooded his campaign account with contributions, as well as his coziness with the extended auto-warranty industry resulting in hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations from the industry to Koster.

Payday Lenders

When Chris Koster wanted to be elected as Missouri's Attorney General, he pledged to crack down on predatory lending companies in an attempt to appeal to the emotions of voters who trusted him to honor his vow. Once he got the job, however, Koster used the same lenders he promised to prosecute to fill his pockets.

Since his broken pledge to prosecute, Koster has collected more than $200,000 from payday lenders. While many of these same companies have been taken to court by Missouri consumers and investigated and sued by other state Attorneys General and by federal regulators, Koster has stood idly by. In 8 years, Koster has only taken action against payday lenders on two separate occasions, and both times he went after companies that had no history of donating to his campaign. (Legal News Line, December 2, 2011 and St. Louis Post-Dispatch, March 5, 2015).

Cashing In On Extended Auto Warranties

Early during his tenure as Attorney General, Koster was a critic of the extended auto warranty industry, which has been accused of fraud and deceptive practices. After filing lawsuits against several companies, Koster partnered with the industry to draft legislation regulating the industry -- legislation that was criticized by watchdogs for failing to include a "significant" provision requiring disclosures to consumers.

After the bill was signed into law, industry donations poured in to Koster's campaign, and a Koster top aide, Chris Carenza, was hired as Executive Director of the Vehicle Protection Association, an industry trade group. According to VPA records, the Carenza-led group held annual meetings from 2012-2014 that coincided with a flood of industry donations to Koster. Since 2011, Koster has received over $220,000 in donations from the VPA and extended auto service contract companies, whose practices continue to result in Better Business Bureau complaints and complaints filed with Koster's own office.

"Just like Hillary Clinton, Chris Koster is master manipulating his government position to his advantage - and he is everything that is wrong with politics," said Kristen Blanchard Ansley, Director of Statewide Communication for the Missouri Republican Party. "Koster promised Missourians that he would protect them by cracking down on payday lenders and the extended auto warranty industry, but instead he stood by while they poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into his campaign coffers. In one week, Missourians have the ability to put an end to Chris Koster's corrupt pay-to-play revolving-door style politics."

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