From the Washington Examiner today by Alana Goodman:
A powerful, long-serving Republican congressman blocked a federal crackdown on predatory lenders targeting military members while his wife was working for a firm that lobbied for one of the nation’s top lender trade associations, according to financial disclosures.
Rep. Mac Thornberry of Texas was chairman of the House Armed Services Committee when he pushed to delay new restrictions under Military Lending Act that sought to protect military service members from predatory lending practices. A study conducted by the Department of Defense found that 11% of military members had been subjected to predatory loans, leading to personnel discharges at a cost to the department of $14 million a year.
Under the rules, lenders, banks, and credit card companies were required to cap interest rates at 36% annually and are prohibited from providing continual payday loans or requiring service members to submit to mandatory arbitration rather than seeking a resolution in court.
The restrictions, which were proposed by Barack Obama and backed by veterans advocates and consumer groups, were designed to combat predatory lending behavior and payday lenders targeting military personnel.
At the time, Thornberry’s wife, Sally, was working for Canfield & Associates, a lobbying firm that oversees and lobbies for the Consumer Mortgage Coalition, a major trade association for the mortgage lending industry, according to financial disclosure reports. The reports indicate that she worked at the firm in 2015 and 2016.
Later in the same article:
The National Legal and Policy Center, a government watchdog group that has been investigating Thornberry’s financial ties, said his wife’s work for a lobbying group that had interests before his committee raises questions about conflicts of interest.
“Sometimes things are exactly as they appear, and the appearances here are not good for Rep. Thornberry,” said Tom Anderson, director of NLPC’s government integrity project. “If you are sitting atop the Armed Services Committee, you should be careful about your relationships with special interests. He’s apparently made them part of his family.”