A critic says Gov. Jan Brewer’s credibility is being undermined. But the governor says it’s not inappropriate that some of her political associates are doing work for the payday loan industry that could result in legislation reaching her desk.
The industry-hired associates include Chuck Coughlin, a lobbyist and political consultant who is managing Brewer’s 2010 campaign, and Grant Woods, a former attorney general and her campaign’s co-chairman. Both have been hired by the payday loan industry to try to keep it authorized under state law past July 1, when the current authorization is set to expire.
Arizona voters in November 2008 rejected an industry-backed initiative to extend the authorization for the high-interest, short-term loans. It also would prohibited a lender from making a new loan to a customer who already has a loan outstanding and required lenders to allow repayment plans on request before a transaction is due.
Reauthorization is expected to be a contentious issue during the 2010 regular session, which starts in January.
An industry critic, Democratic Sen. Debbie McCune Davis of Phoenix, said Nov. 30 the Brewer associates’ dual roles undermine the Republican governor’s credibility.
“The fact that the governor’s chief political advisers now are being paid by those same payday lenders to try to overturn the will of the people is an insult to her office and undermines her credibility on this and other issues,” McCune Davis said.
Asked about the dual roles of some of her political associates, Brewer said she didn’t “see a problem with it” and that they haven’t talked to her about the reauthorization issue.
“We will do what’s right for the people of Arizona,” she said.
Brewer also said it was premature to comment on whether she’d support reauthorization.
Coughlin declined to comment. Woods did not immediately return a call for comment.
Supporters of payday loans say they serve customers who otherwise couldn’t get credit. Opponents say the loans can lead to perpetual debt traps for inexperienced borrowers.