Payday lenders, with major business before Trump, to hold conference at Trump Doral

The main entrance to the Trump National Doral Miami Golf Shop.
The main entrance to the Trump National Doral Miami Golf Shop. For the Washington Post

National charities and industry associations are ditching Trump properties like Mar-a-Lago for annual galas and conferences, but at least one association with business before the White House is set to visit Trump National Doral for its annual conference.

The Community Financial Services Association of America, an interest group that represents the payday loan industry, is hosting its four-day annual conference in April 2018 at Donald Trump’s 90-hole golf resort 12 miles west of downtown Miami.

Payday loans are a form of high-interest credit usually taken out by low-income people who aren’t able to borrow from traditional banks. Many consumers access the loans online, and critics say the loans can be predatory.

Last month, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a federal agency responsible for consumer protection in the financial sector, finalized a rule that requires payday lenders to determine up front whether people can afford to pay their loans, a decision that was criticized by the Community Financial Services Association of America.

“The CFPB’s misguided rule will only serve to cut off their access to vital credit when they need it the most,” association CEO Dennis Shaul said in a statement in October. “The rule is not only misguided, it’s hideously complex for loans of a few hundred dollars.”

The CFPB, established by Congress in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, has long been a target of Republicans, who charge that the agency creates burdensome regulations for industry groups. The CFPB was proposed by liberal Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, which further rankles Republicans.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is a co-sponsor of a bill proposed by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz that would eliminate the CFPB.

Diane Standaert, executive vice president for the Center for Responsible Lending, a nonprofit that advocates for stronger regulations on the payday loan industry, said that President Donald Trump and Congress could nullify the new CFPB rule and help the payday loan industry by passing a bill that overturns the rule before the rule goes into full effect about two years from now.

“Payday loans are debt traps by design with interest rates averaging 300 percent,” Standaert said. “These small loans cause big problems for low-income people all across the country.”

The CFSAA did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A Trump Organization spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Trump could also jettison CFPB director Richard Cordray before his term expires in July 2018 and appoint a new director who is less likely to enforce the new payday loan rule, Standaert said, though the new director could not unilaterally reverse the rule on his or her own. Cordray, a former Ohio attorney general, will likely be replaced by a more Trump-friendly director in 2018 if he survives his full term.

“There’s definitely a worry that a new director would not be as aggressive,” Standaert said.

The CFSAA spends thousands every election cycle on political contributions, and it gave $129,500 to federal candidates during the 2016 campaign cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Former Florida governor and presidential candidate Jeb Bush, Florida Senate candidate Patrick Murphy and Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fort Lauderdale, all received at least $3,000 from the industry group in 2016, and Hastings has also received campaign money during the current 2018 cycle. Bush is a Republican, while Murphy and Hastings are Democrats. Both Rubio and Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson received campaign cash from the CFSAA in the 2012 cycle, while Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz received money during the 2012 and 2014 cycles.

The CFSAA typically holds its annual conference in California during odd-numbered years and on the east coast during even-numbered years, though the group has not used a Trump property in the last five years, according to past conference invitations posted online.

“The payday lenders have been busy over the years trying to block this rule altogether, supporting congressional legislation through the Financial Choice Act, which would have prohibited the bureau from having any jurisdiction over payday lending,” Standaert said. “This is another step in a long-term effort.”

Herald staff writer Nicholas Nehamas contributed to this report.

Alex Daugherty: 202-383-6049, @alextdaugherty