Consumers Rights League
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This article is part of the Center for Media & Democracy's spotlight on front groups and corporate spin.
The Consumer Rights League (CRL) appears to be a front group for the credit card and pay day loan industry that was created to do battle with industry critics such as the Center for Responsible Lending and ACORN.
In 2009 CRL stepped up its attacks on the Center for Responsible Lending, which has been effective in advocating for interest rate caps on payday loan companies. According to their website:"The Consumers Rights League has filed formal complaints with the Secretary of the Senate, the Clerk of the House and the Internal Revenue Service to investigate reporting irregularities and suspicious lobbying practices by the Center for Responsible Lending."
In May 2008 the Wall Street Journal reported that CRL worked with FreedomWorks and Rent-A-Center to beat back interest rate caps on payday loans in states like Ohio. (FreedomWorks is headed by former House leader Dick Armey). In Ohio, Freedom Works, rented space to CRL. Terry Kibbe of CRL is married to Matt Kibbe, the President of FreedomWorks.
CRL argues that payday loans represent the "democratization of credit" and promised to counter "the numerous self-appointed consumer advocacy groups that are aggressively lobbying to restrict the choices we have."
Payday loan companies like Rent-A-Center regularly charge consumers interest rates on one-week payday loans that are equivalent to an annual rate of 782% interest. Thus, they have been active in the fight to beat back caps on annualized interest rate such as the 28% cap passed by Ohio in 2008.
On July 17, 2008, CRL ran a full-page advertisement on page 5B of USA Today, arguing against a bill before Congress, supported by every major consumer organization, that CRL claimed would "pickpocket consumers" at the gas pump. The ad implied that the bill, the "Credit Card Fair Fee Act" (H.R. 5546) is anti-consumer (the same position taken by the Visa International credit card company.
CRL does not disclose on its Web site that it was started by numerous officers listed below including Terry L. Kibbe, a former chief fundraiser for the Competitive Enterprise Institute and the Cato Institute. A March 2008 article in Forbes omits the details about Kibbe's background, while quoting Kibbe's criticism of Self-Help Credit Union, the North Carolina-based relative of the Center for Responsible Lending, which advocates against payday loans.
According to Forbes:
- Terry L. Kibbe, a former think tank fundraiser who last year started a libertarian consumer advocacy outfit, Consumers Rights League, notes that Self-Help's high delinquency rate--it's seven times that of the typical credit union--proves that Eakes is as bad at judging borrowers' ability to pay back loans as anybody else. Self-Help says less than 1% of its loans ultimately default.
CRL's website contains several examples of anti-consumer-group rhetoric, but discloses no information about the group's own funding, the site's origins or who runs it.
A research 'report' on the site appears to argue on behalf of the credit card industry, stating, "Most importantly, credit cards can provide inexpensive access to credit for low-income Americans, many of whom take advantage of 0% and low-interest rates to pay down debt."
Board of directors
According to their 2008 IRS 990 statement, which can be accessed on Guidestar at http://www2.guidestar.org/ under the name "Consumer Rights League":
CRL's 2008 Board members were the same as 2007 with the addition of Jim Terry, Executive Director.
- Jason Roe Treasurer
- Mike McKay Secretary
- Mike Flynn, President. Mike Flynn is currently the Editor in Chief of Andrew Breitbart's Big Government as of Sept 2009 , and was formerly Director of Government Affairs with the Reason Foundation, which according to their website is "a nonpartisan think tank whose mission is to advance a free society by developing and applying and promoting libertarian principles."
- Dwayne DeChiara Vice President (listed as "Duane DiChiara, Vice President / Director" on 2008 IRS Form 990)
- Teresa Kibbe, Executive Director
PO Box 77692
Washington, DC 20004
Phone: (800) 504-3608
Fax: (866) 422-0833
Email (Media): media AT consumersrightsleague.org
Email (General): info AT consumersrightsleague.org
Articles and resources
Related SourceWatch articles
- "CRL Files Formal Complaints Requesting Investigation Into Center for Responsible Lending's Suspicious Reporting and Lobbying Activities", Consumers Rights League website, accessed October 14, 2009.
- Michael Phillips, "Payday Lenders Find Prominent Allies", Wall Street Journal, May 1, 2008.
- "Visa Exec. Explains Stance on Credit Card Bill", Convenience Store News, July 21, 2008.
- "Self-Help Credit Union home page", July 27, 2008.
- "Center for Responsible Lending home page", July 27, 2008.
- Stephane Fitch and Matthew Woolsey, "Subprime's Mr. Clean", Forbes, March 10, 2008.
- "About the Consumers Rights League', Consumer Rights League website, accessed October 2009.
- PIRG Misleads U.S. House Antitrust Task Force, Consumer Rights League website, June 2008. (Pdf)
- "Big Government website, Mike Flynn Bio" Site accessed June 2010