The Miami New Times reports that the Community Financial Services Association of America (CFSA) will host its annual conference at President Donald Trump’s golf resort in Doral this year. The CFSA, a trade group that represents payday loan companies, traditionally holds the conference in California during odd-numbered years.
Sekinah Hamlin of the Center for Responsible Lending said the move is a “clear conflict of interest.”
"Previously, they did not meet at his resorts, but it just so happens that once he became president, then they started meeting at his resorts. We don't think it's happenstance, and we think it's a slap in the face to American families."
The payday loan industry has long been criticized for its predatory lending practices, like charging sky-high interest rates. Many companies also locate their stores in low-income neighborhoods with the goal of targeting customers who won’t be able to repay the loans.
Now, for the second year in a row, the CFSA will hold its conference at the Trump National Doral Miami. Last year industry leaders spent their time at the conference lobbying to undo consumer protection rules that negatively affect payday loan companies, which were enacted under the Obama administration. To critics, it appeared to be a “pay-to-play” situation.
"The payday lenders are taking money they have stolen from hardworking families and giving it to the president to make sure he does right by them," Hamlin told New Times.
The Trump administration responded by announcing that they would end regulations requiring “payday lenders to verify a borrower’s ability to repay the loan before handing out a cash advance.” The proposal requires a 90-day comment period, giving time for the public to react.
"This is harmful for families, and it’s not right," Hamlin says. "We want to make sure that this rises to the surface."
CEO of CFSA Dennis Shaul responded, “The venue is popular with our members, and it meets our needs.”