Why Congressman Pete Sessions Supports Payday Lenders, and Vice Versa

Tod Robberson of the Morning News says that you shouldn’t be fooled by any Ace Cash Express commercials featuring Ron Washington you see  during this afternoon’s Rangers game:

When you drive down the street and see an Ace Cash Express or CashAmerica or PL$ payday loan shop open in an otherwise downtrodden strip mall, all the colorful awnings and open-for-business signs make the neighborhood look vibrant again.

Don’t be fooled. When those businesses come to your neighborhood, there’s trouble right around the corner. Payday lenders, pawn shops and title-loan companies are all signs that your neighborhood is in deep financial distress. It means there’s a high concentration of people living on the financial edge or rapidly descending into insolvency and poverty.

Robberson places some responsibility for the prevalence of payday lenders in Dallas County on Pete Sessions. Using a strange map, he notes that “nearly half of all of the pawn, payday and title loan shops in Dallas County are inside or within a mile of GOP Rep. Pete Sessions’ 32nd Congressional District.”  I’m not sure about the validity of the implication of that map, since Sessions’ gerrymandered district makes it so that a huge swath of the county can be said to be within a mile of his district’s boundaries.

But still, Robberson has a point both about the predatory nature of lenders who often charge a usurious rate of 200-300% and about the fact that one of these companies, CashAmerica, is the top contributor to Sessions’ campaign. So Robberson asked Sessions to defend these businesses:

It’s a marketplace answer that a lot of people want and need. I represented the 5th District of Texas for a long period of time. I saw firsthand how people could come and bring in what’s associated with this also is what might be known as the pawn store. Lots of people come and, I don’t know, it’s not unusual to see people bring in a ring and say: I’d like for you to hold this ring. I don’t want you to do anything with it. I’ll hold this as collateral. I think this is an honest and legitimate way to be able to have people who do business maybe differently than, necessarily, the five of us in this room. …

“I’m sure that they’re there for a reason. People can’t get it somewhere else. It’s a cheaper way, not a more expensive way to do business.”


  • Glenn Hunter

    Poor people don’t need pawn shops, etc., coming into their neighborhoods to signal to them that they’re “in deep financial distress.” They know that already. Why doesn’t Robberson focus on real solutions for these neighborhoods he’s so worried about — like jump-starting a crap economy to provide some jobs? Probably because it’s easier to scapegoat legal businesses.

  • Spell Checker

    “Tod,” not “Todd.”

  • J bennett

    One of the things that could happen here is to actually get someone to stop the usury and exorbitant excessive lending rates and actually be on the side of the consumer…

  • JS

    The laws in Texas already prohibit usurious rates, so these businesses are complying with the law. People are working in those businesses, so they are supplying sorely-needed jobs. People are using the services of those businesses, so there is a demand. What’s the problem? Is this another “we need to protect stupid people from themselves” project?

  • Dubious Brother

    Of course, the people that go to Ace Cash Express or Cash America should just go to their local bank and borrow the money they need to get by at a reasonable interest rate. The local banker would gladly lend them $1,000 if they had a $1,000 CD at the bank but if they offer up the ring as collateral, the banker would say “we are not a pawn shop.”
    I am truly surprised that Robberson did not show the same map illustration for Eddie Bernice Johnson’s gerrymandered district just to prove that this wasn’t an attack on Pete Sessions.

  • @Spell Checker: Fixed. I must have been too focused on not screwing up the “bb” in “Robberson.”

  • New poem thank you


    What, what? says Petie, eyebrows raised.
    It’s only business, he says, eyes aglazed
    by campaign contributions that trickle down
    into his coffers, and deep enough to drown
    out those voices who pay the usurous rates.
    But political panintocy is how it translates.
    Cheaper way to do business? Idea idiopath
    never queried? Do we trust this man’s math?
    Excuse me for pointing out the obvious odor
    of flattery, not candor, towards a big donor.
    The collateral, as it were, of his political ambition.
    Isn’t it sickening, this act of lambition?

  • Edward

    It’s never a shock to see people lunging over themselves to protect Pete Session, inarguably one of the most worthless politicians we’ve been stuck with in Dallas County.

    “The poorest of the poor have color TV’s and indoor plumbing” is one of my favorite quotes from Pete. He’s lucky he was gifted with his job from Dad and has never had to actually work for a living.

    And of course he’s always been at the front of the parade on “traditional marriage” and his open hatred and disdain for equal rights for gays and lesbians – and that’s not just disdain for gay marriage, but equal rights in general, believing that it’s perfectly fine to fire someone for being gay, and he “doesn’t represent those people anyways” so it wasn’t a concern of his.

    And yet….he’s now divorced and remarried. I guess since gay marriage was made legal in DC it must have destroyed his “traditional” marriage.

  • New poem thank you

    @Dubious, your analogy leaves out one thing. Banks with FDIC insurance do not charge rates so high due to federal regulations. Payday lenders are overseen by states, and the laws vary from state to state.

    Usury, defined, can apply to exhorbitantly high (OR illegal) rates. 200% – 300% interest would seem exhorbitantly high. Whether or not our mathlete politicians in Austin “approved” them or not.

  • ERG

    Remember several years ago when Sessions was the waterboy for casino interests? it is interesting that he seems to champion the causes of high donors at the expense of the real issues his constituents care about.

  • Jonathan Carpenter

    Don’t use the Payday Loan places! You would have better luck with the Mob.

  • Dubious Brother

    @New poem – my point is that the people that go to the Payday loan places can’t get a loan at a bank. If the money is needed now for whatever reason and you can’t make it to payday it fills a need. These are not the folks that have 6-9 months salary in the bank as a cushion. I don’t know what the stats are on loans that don’t get repaid or how many rollover but the 200% – 300% interest rate is annual and most loans are repaid in a few weeks. Is it expensive? Yes, but so is losing a car to the repo man or not being able to buy medicine for a sick kid. No one is forcing people to use them. I personally am more concerned with the large “legitimate” banks getting their gambling debts covered with tax payer funds to the tune of billions.

  • Grump Demo

    Best part: Who did The DMN Editorial Board endorse?

    Congressman Pete Sessions

  • critic

    Term limits, term limits, term limits for all
    Go away Pete Sessions
    Go away Eddie Bernice Johnson too !

  • New poem thank you

    @Dubious – Unfortunately, while filling this void, it draws in more and more capital investment in this business. Because at its core, it is highly profitable. I tell my employees to come and see me if they need a “payday” loan for emergencies – no questions asked – specifically so they don’t get into the cycle.

  • New poem thank you

    @ critic – well done. Free verse for all. Just make it euphonic.

  • Dubious Brother

    @critic – I agree

    @ New Poem – I have done that and been burned and I have a client that does it successfully – most employers don’t

  • marisa

    This country needs to clean house from DC to Texas to Dallas. The career politicans should look for a new job and stop sucking off the tit of the public. Wake up people and reclaim your country.

  • DCAD

    I checked out the map. Are there really that many of these places on N Buckner and only 1 on all of S Buckner? Or might the DMN have forgotten to add the “S” to the addresses?

    Also this is only TX-32 for about 90 more days. Then that Oak Cliff chunk switches districts and he moves to NE the Dallas County burbs. Why not show both maps? Wouldn’t his current donors be more focused on what he can do once he represents the new district?

  • Logan Artaud

    People confuse ‘poor’ with ‘financially inept.’ Poor folks are just as smart as anyone else to protect themselves with these loans by using them responsibly, or simply not using them at all.