Attack Ads Target Ohio Payday Loan Reformer

Inside Subprime: Oct 15, 2018

Ohio has been at the forefront this past year of passing tougher restrictions on payday loan providers. But one Republican advocate of those measures has been the focus of secretive attack ads in recent weeks.

Kyle Koehler, the Republican state representative from Springfield, Ohio who pushed the payday reform bill, reported in early October that flyers had been stuffed into mailboxes across Clark County reading “Kyle Koehler isn’t doing his job.” According to an October 6 article by Laura A. Bischoff of the Springfield News-Sun, the flyers are attributed to a group called “United for Clean Power,” with a return address of a post office box in Washington, D.C. The group also created a Facebook page featuring Koehler’s picture and has advertised on conservative news sites.

Koehler is currently running for re-election to the Ohio House against Democratic challenger Amanda Finfrock. As quoted by Bischoff, Finfrock’s campaign spokesperson Brad Minerd said “We have no clue” when asked about the source of the flyers, and further noted that Finfrock’s father had also received the flyer, which is how the Finfrock campaign first became aware of it.

Apparently Koehler is the sole target by United for Clean Power in Ohio, according to a spokesperson for the Ohio House Republicans Organizing Committee. The flyers make no mention of either clean energy or payday lending.

But Koehler appears to believe that his advocacy for payday lending reform has prompted the attacks. As quoted in Bischoff’s article, Koehler said “I was warned this would happen. When you stand up to do the right thing, people stand up against you… Payday lending reform was the right thing to do.”

Koehler was a joint co-sponsor of the measure with Rep. Michael Ashford, a Democrat from Toledo. As reported by Laura Hancock of Cleveland.com, the bill signed by Kasich, called the Fairness in Lending Act, provides several reforms of the payday lending industry.  These include: limiting loans to $1,000; limiting the term of the loans to 12 months; capping the cost of the loan, including fees and interest, to no more than 60 percent of the original principal; requiring lenders to provide a “sample repayment schedule based on affordability” for loans over 90 days; and prohibiting harassing phone calls from lenders.

The new law was designed to address areas not covered by an earlier 2008 payday lending law. In a June 19 article, Jim Siegel of the Columbus Dispatch noted that “The Pew Charitable Trusts says Ohio payday lenders charge the highest rates in the nation, with annual percentage rates topping 500 percent.”

The bill, introduced as House Bill 123 in 2017, had, as Bischoff noted for the Springfield News-Sun, “failed to get traction until April 2018 when this newspaper reported that then Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger, R-Clarksville, hired a criminal defense attorney to address an FBI investigation into his travels with payday lenders. Days after that report, Rosenberger resigned.”

It’s possible that campaign finance reports, due later this month, might disclose who is behind the attacks from United for Clean Power on Koehler.

For information on predatory payday loans in Ohio, check out all of our Ohio Subprime Reports, including:

Akron | Canton | Cincinnati | Cleveland | Columbus | Dayton | Fremont | Lima | Springfield | Toledo | Youngstown


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