Pawnbroker and Payday Lender Dumping Cash Into Council, Mayoral Races
Campaign finance reports due last night show that First Cash Financial Services, which is fighting legislation that would cap fees and interest rates on payday lenders check cashers and pawnbrokers in the District, has made some strategic investments in this year's political races: At least $8,000 to sitting councilmembers, all in the ten days after a June 2 hearing on Councilmember Muriel Bowser's proposed bill.
First Cash doled out $500 to Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham, $1500 to Kwame Brown's race for chairman, $1,000 to Councilmember-at-large David Catania, and $2,000 to Council Chairman Vince Gray.
Rick Wessel, First Cash's CEO, also cut checks to Graham ($500) and Gray ($2,000) as well as Ward 5 Councilmember Harry Thomas ($500).
Councilmembers Tommy Wells and Mary Cheh recieved none of First Cash's largesse, and neither did Mayor Adrian Fenty. I haven't managed to get all of the reports out of the Campaign Finance Office's jankety website, but will update when I can. Probably safe to assume that Bowser won't be getting any of First Cash's cash, though. And it wouldn't make sense for First Cash to fund any challengers–the bill will likely come to a vote before they have a chance to take office.
Roderic Woodson, First Cash's attorney from Holland and Knight–and a generous donor himself–told Housing Complex yesterday that his client would shut down its two existing pawnshops in the District if the Council passes Bowser's bill in its current form. Look forward to more on this issue in next week's column!