News Venus Velazquez: “I support an interest cap on payday loans!”
posted by June 14 at 14:22 PMon
Going through the campaign finance records of this year’s city council candidates for a story we did this week, I found that Latina activist and now-candidate Venus Velazquez had gotten more than $1,000 from Money Tree, the controversial payday loan company that drew the ire of minority activists earlier this year.
Indeed, forming Communities Against Payday Predators, activists tried to pass a 36% interest cap on the loans in Olympia. They failed.
Knowing that donations from Money Tree folks like company execs Dennis and David Bassford and Money Tree spokesman David Gandara had been flowing to minority politicians, including Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos (D-37, South Seattle) and Sen. Margarita Prentice (D-11, Renton)—and apparently swaying their positions, I called Velazquez today to find out where she stood on the issue.
Velazquez says she’s on record supporting the cap on interest rates, having signed a letter from the activists last winter. “David [Gandara] knows my position on this,” Velazquez told me, “but he gave me money anyway because he wants me to win. He’s an old friend.” Velazquez and Gandara worked together at the Washington State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce when Velazquez was the Chamber president. “My door’s open to David,” she says, “but he knows where I stand.”
As for the Bassford contributions Velazquez explained: “David [Gandara] wants me to win. He asked his friends to contribute and so [Bassford] donated.”
Velazquez also reports that Sen. Prentice, the main opponent of capping payday rates, has endorsed her.
Footnote: Velazquez said she didn’t mind that we reported the Money Tree contributions because she’s “on record” for the cap, but she reports she didn’t like that we described her as “An impolitic loudmouth who’s willing to tell it like it is.”
While she revels in being “outspoken” and “from the East coast” she told me that “loudmouth” had sexist overtones. I told her that we constantly described Dwight Pelz the exact same way, and that she should be flattered.