Citizens Group Files Suit Naming Arizona Secretary of State for Giving Cover to Payday Lender Ballot Scheme

2008-08-22 13:11:00

    Voters must know Prop 200 would legalize 400 percent interest, group


    PHOENIX, Aug. 22 /EMWNews/ -- An Arizona committee

working to stop out-of-state payday lenders from tricking voters into

permanently legalizing 400 percent interest rates filed a lawsuit this

morning naming Secretary of State Janice Brewer in Superior Court.

    Voters may unknowingly vote for 400 percent interest rates for payday

loans if the Secretary of State does not clarify the descriptive language

of Proposition 200 on this November's ballot, said the Arizonans for

Responsible Lending, No on 200 committee in its lawsuit.

    The Secretary of State refused to revise the language in response to

yesterday's request from the committee, which is working to correct the

critical omission before voter pamphlets go to print August 28.

    "Knowing what you're voting for is fundamental to our democracy," said

Ken Clark, campaign manager for Arizonans for Responsible Lending, No on

200. "If the Secretary of State does not clearly let voters know they are

choosing between 400 percent interest and 36 percent interest, she is

aiding and abetting payday lenders, whose very business relies on this kind

of deception."

    "The voters deserve to know the actual effect of their votes," said

Senator Debbie McCune Davis in the letter asking Secretary Brewer for the

clarification. "The law requires it, and we know that such clarity is your

objective as well. Therefore we believe the language needs to be amended."

    Senator McCune Davis is the chair of Arizonans for Responsible Lending,

No on 200, which represents dozens of organizations urging their members to

vote "no" on Prop 200. The members, which include Arizona AARP, the Greater

Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, Valley of the Sun United Way, Children's

Action Alliance, and a number of faith-based organizations, contend that

Prop 200 is no reform at all and will in fact sabotage the state's coming

opportunity to roll payday lenders back under the state's 36 percent

interest rate cap on July 1, 2010.

    Under current law, Arizona payday lenders will lose their special

privilege to charge 400 percent interest in 2010. At 400 percent interest,

the typical payday borrower pays more in interest than the amount borrowed.

    "This is really just legalized loansharking," said Lupe Solis,

associate director of advocacy for AARP. "If the payday lending industry is

going to come into our state and ask us to make their predatory lending

practices permanent, the voters should at least know what they are voting


    If the ballot measure does not pass, Governor Napolitano has said she

will not sign any future bill that would extend the payday lenders

exemption from the usury cap, so the 36 percent cap would take effect in

2010 as scheduled.

    Paid for by Arizonans for Responsible Lending, No on 200. Senator

Debbie McCune Davis, Chair Major Funding by United Food and Commercial

Workers Local 99, Phoenix AZ, Center for Responsible Lending, Durham NC,

Service Employees International Union, Washington DC, and Strategic Issues

Management Group, Tucson AZ; Additional Support from Arizona AARP (602) 561-5881.

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