On Monday, State Sen. Wendy Davis suggested to Gov. Rick Perry the resignation of William J. White, chairman of the Texas Finance Commission.
White was appointed by Gov. Perry in 2011 to chair the Office of the Consumer Credit Commissioner, an agency built on the bases of protecting loan borrowers from the rapacious and faulty practices of lenders.
Oddly enough, White is also vice president of Cash America, a major payday lender accused of making money off the poor.
Davis’ proposal ironically stems from a statement by White she views to be insensitive towards consumers, revealing a complete contradiction to his leadership role in the Office of the Consumer Credit Commissioner.
In a past report by El Paso Times, the official said that consumers are responsible for their own debt caused by loan entrapment.
In response to city Rep. Susie Byrd who believes that Cash America purposely payout out loans to desperate borrowers unable to make consistent repayments, White implies that payday loan consumers are accountable for their own debt.
“People make decisions. There's nobody out there that forces anybody to take any kind of loan. People are responsible for their decisions, just like in my life and in your life. When I make a wrong decision, I pay the consequences,” he told El Paso Times.
Cash America was fined $19 million by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau last month for abusive practices.
Davis deems that White’s role in both areas is simply a conflict of interest.
“William White can’t protect Texas consumers while he represents a predatory lending company on the side,” Davis said.
However, in a statement by Yolanda Walker, vice president of public relations and corporate communications, she defends her fellow Cash America colleague:
"Bill White is an employee of Cash America and holds the title of vice president of Government Affairs. He came back to work for the company after retiring in 2004. Prior to retirement, Bill lobbied the Texas Legislature for many years, during which time he built a solid reputation in Austin and developed strong relationships with government officials…The Governor's office recognized him as a good fit for one of the executive seats with the Texas Finance Commission. One of the requirements for that seat states that Bill must be affiliated with a consumer credit organization, which he is through Cash America. Bill does not work with specific lobby teams, but members of the Finance Commission are regularly contacted by bankers, mortgage bankers, savings and loan representatives and consumer credit organizations…Cash America does not see his appointment to the Commission as a conflict of interest.”
A video recapping the scrutiny Cash America faced in November: