Irving’s Trevor Ahlberg likes shooting elephants, charging exorbitant fees on payday loans, and donating money to conservative causes. He likes that last one so much that — through his company, Cottonwood Financial — he’s donated close to $1 million to conservative Texas politicians since 2009. Texans For Public Justice released a report earlier this week highlighting the top recipients of predatory-lending cash, and the top givers. The recipients list was obvious: Texas Speaker of the House Joe Straus, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, Gov. Rick Perry, Attorney General Greg Abbott. Ahlberg topped the donor list, doling out $904,200 between 2009 and 2012. Arlington’s Texas Consumer Lenders PAC was second, with $544,775. TPJ’s Lobby Watch:
By far, the most politically active payday lender is Trevor Ahlberg of Irving-based Cottonwood Financial. This payday king single-handedly invested more than $900,000 in Texas’ last two elections. “The Top Recipients of Predatory Lender Money” table on the preceding page shows that Ahlberg is the industry’s top contributor to most of the politicians who are most indebted to the predatory-loan industry. Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst collected the biggest Ahlberg payday ($60,000). Ahlberg’s Cottonwood Financial also is the industry’s top contributor to the Mexican American Legislative Caucus.
Two trade groups that doled out more than $500,000 apiece are the industry’s next-biggest contributors. The $62,500 that Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst took from the Texas Consumer Finance Association makes him the top recipient of its largesse. Meanwhile, the Texas Consumer Lenders PAC was especially sweet on Speaker Straus, who scored $76,000 from this trade group. This PAC raised just over $700,000 in the 2012 cycle, collecting 43 percent of it in South Carolina, 33 percent in Texas and 24 percent in Ohio.
The money, TPJ said, ensures predatory lenders “will continue to have their evil way with the most desperate and least sophisticated borrowers.” If you haven’t read Forrest Wilder’s fantastic first-person story about getting a loan from one of Ahlberg’s Cash Stores, have at it. For the full TPJ report, hit the jump: