AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis called on the chairman of the state's Finance Commission to resign Monday after comments he made about payday loan borrowers.
The Fort Worth senator said William J. White revealed a conflict of interest when he told the El Paso Times it was incorrect to question the practices of payday lending companies. The newspaper quoted him as saying that consumers are responsible for getting themselves into debt trouble, not the companies that make the loans.
In 2009, Gov. Rick Perry appointed White as chairman of the Finance Commission, the state agency responsible for protecting consumers from predatory lending. White is also a vice president at Cash America, a major payday lender based in Fort Worth, which the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau sanctioned last month for improper lending.
"William White can't protect Texas consumers while he represents a predatory lending company on the side," Davis said in a statement.
White's office did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment about Davis' statement.
Critics, including the Roman Catholic Church, say the loans exploit the poor and uneducated by charging high interest rates and fees, while allowing consumers to take out repeated loans.
Many cities, including El Paso, have passed ordinances restricting the loans or requiring extensive disclosures.
The companies say they provide an important service to poor people who can't obtain other types of loans and that high fees are necessary to make the business profitable.