The Texas payday loan industry drew mockery on national television on Sunday night, as HBO comedian John Oliver singled out state lawmakers for fighting against reforms while being heavily invested in the industry.
During a lengthy segment on payday loans, Oliver, the host of “Last Week Tonight,” a left-leaning satirical news show, held out Texas as an example of how the industry is “incredibly good at avoiding regulation.” The segment featured video of a confrontation between state Rep. Gary Elkins, R-Houston, and former state Rep. Vicki Truitt, R-Southlake, in which Truitt accused Elkins of having a conflict of interest for arguing against payday loan regulations while owning 12 payday loan locations.
Oliver pointed out that after leaving office, Truitt became a lobbyist for ACE Cash Express, a payday lender that recently agreed to a $10 million settlement over allegations by the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that it used illegal tactics to push borrowers into a cycle of debt.
Oliver also noted that Gov. Rick Perry appointed William White, a vice president at payday lender Cash America, as chairman of the Finance Commission of Texas. That appointment has been an issue in the 2014 gubernatorial campaign, with Democratic candidate Wendy Davis calling for White to resign.