Former city Health Commissioner owed thousands to Milwaukee payday lenders

Inside Subprime: March 30, 2018

By Caroline Thompson

Bevan Baker spent 13 years as Milwaukee’s Health Commissioner, but in January 2018, Baker was forced to resign after news broke that his department had seriously mishandled a lead poisoning case, which left thousands of Wisconsin children who’d tested positively for lead – and their families – without promised treatments or resources.

After Baker stepped down, journalists began digging into his past, and found that in addition to the lead poisoning scandal plaguing his department, the former health chief had a myriad of personal financial issues he was keeping under wraps.

As Health Commissioner, Baker pulled in $147,842 per year, but that six-figure salary wasn’t enough to keep him out of trouble. According to Milwaukee Country records, the IRS put a lien on his property in 2015 in response to $26,578 in unpaid federal income taxes. Additionally, Baker had more than $15,000 in debt to 13 different Milwaukee payday lenders, including CashNet USA, Payday Max, American Web Loan and Cash Store No. 238.

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, these debts ranged from $325 to nearly $2,500, and caused Baker to go to court in 2012 to “consolidate and pay off” this series of delinquent loans.

While Baker was reportedly put on a plan to consolidate these debts, and paid a total of $510 per month for three years, he was still sued by USA Web Cash over “over a claim that he defaulted on a short-term consumer loan taken out less than nine months earlier. The lender said Baker owed $4,442.”

Especially in Wisconsin,  one of eight U.S. states with no annual cap on interest rates, taking out a payday loan is a dangerous game. Why a well-paid government official would need to take out so many high-interest, short-term loans remains to be seen.

For more information on payday loans in Wisconsin, check out these related pages and article from OppLoans:


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