Josh Mandel, the Ohio Treasurer who is challenging Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), traveled to the Bahamas last Friday to give a speech to payday lenders and hold a fundraiser, reports the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
Mandel did not spend the night and did not use taxpayer funds for the visit. Still, the Plain Dealer notes the hazard of such a trip:
But by flying to the Bahamas to raise money from payday lenders, Mandel also faces the likelihood of being accused of cozying up to an industry blasted not long ago for charging interest rates as high as 391 percent, thanks to the magic of compounding, rollovers and fees.
Mandel's spokesman, realizing that possibility, noted that Brown, the senator, has also taken contributions from the industry.
Richard Cordray, the former Ohio Attorney General who President Barack Obama recess-appointed to be head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, has said that the agency will scrutinize banks that make high-cost loans, including both big banks and payday lenders. Ohio passed legislation that held up to a referendum capping interest at 28 percent on short-term loans; however, a bill to reduce fees associated with the loans only passed the state House. Mandel voted against the legislation because, according to the Columbus Monthly, he believed families needed more access to credit to cover basics.