Appling Admits Lie in Campaign:

Today in the MJS:

Amendment opponents raised fears that the amendment might affect domestic partner benefits offered to public employees or short-circuit domestic abuse laws in cases involving unmarried partners.

"Will there be legal challenges? I don't know," Appling said. "Where will they come from? I don't know."

Appling said she has "no plans to be involved in litigation." She added "the government is free to give benefits to unmarried individuals on a basis that does not approximate marriage."

In a wide-ranging interview at her Madison office, Appling spoke in general terms about plans for her organization.

She said the amendment was "just the first piece" of an effort to build a "culture of marriage in Wisconsin."

"We want to see marriage rates increase, cohabitation decrease, divorce rates decrease," she said, adding that she's interested in "stopping the bleeding of no-fault divorce."

However, in her previous statements:

State Rep. Mark Gundrum (R-New Berlin), an author of the amendment, and Julaine Appling, President of Vote Yes for Marriage, have argued in public debates, in the press, and on radio talk shows that benefits for unmarried heterosexual couples aren’t jeopardized by the amendment, and that this is an allegation designed to confuse voters or distract them from “protecting marriage.” Appling and her allies frequently refer to Kentucky, where an almost identically-worded amendment passed in 2004 and where, to date, no efforts have been made to strike down domestic partner benefits.


Quote of the Day

The NYTIMES Paul Krugman:

And if you think the timing of the Saddam verdict was coincidental, I’ve got a terrorist plot against the Brooklyn Bridge to sell you.


Pung Leshke accepts money from out-of-state predatory lender

The first name on page 2 of Julie Pung-Leschke's Campaign Finance Report is a donation of $500 by Rod Aycox of Select Management Resources LLC. Another $500 came from Aycox's wife, for a total of $1000.

What is Select Management Resources? They are a predatory 'Auto Title' lender. He makes money by taking advantage of people who need money and pay up to 300 percent interest.

And he has a political history:

Aycox says his partners put up the money and he provided the expertise to open about 200 stores in 15 states. Expanding into some states meant little more than filling a regulatory vacuum; those states' laws neither specifically allowed nor barred title lending. Opening in other states, however, required mastering local politics.

In five states, Aycox appeared before legislative bodies, advocating laws that would permit title lending.

In other states, he met with banking regulators, encouraging them to interpret their rules to allow his business to operate profitably — that is, by charging triple-digit interest rates.

Almost everywhere he lent money, or wanted to lend money, Aycox spent money on political contributions.

Since 2000, Aycox, his companies and close relatives have donated $313,900 to 130 state and federal candidates and political committees in 10 states, according to an analysis of databases compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics and the Institute on Money in State Politics. About $90,000 of those donations went to Georgia campaigns.

Earlier, news reports in Tennessee identified Aycox as the largest individual contributor in that state's elections in 1998, three years after legislators there had legalized the title lending industry.

The story linked to above gives a good overview of his business. He loans people up to half the value of their car, on 300% interest. If a payment is missed, the car is repossesed and sold. In most cases, even though the loan is for less than the full price of the car, the Pung-Leschke contributor keeps the entire amount of the car's sale.

Who getstaken advanagee of by these services? Poor people, those on the edge and most shockingly, members of our armed services.

In Jacksonville, the Navy got involved in trying to regulate these predators:

In Florida, after lawmakers in 1995 approved interest rates of 22 percent a month, or 264 percent a year, consumer advocates began pressing for repeal.

"It took us about four years," says Lynn Drysdale, an attorney for Jacksonville Area Legal Aid. "Every year, we would go to the Legislature and they would say, 'We didn't mean to make it 264 percent a year. We thought we were making it 22 percent a year.' Then the title lenders would get to them and nothing would happen."

Finally, the U.S. Navy, which has a massive presence in the Jacksonville area, joined the fight, Drysdale says.

"They said, 'Look, we have people who are deployed in ships and they are talking to their wives and husbands back home and they are scared to death that the car is going to be repo'd.' "

In 2000, Florida lawmakers slashed annual rates to 30 percent, or 2.5 percent a month. Aycox and other title lenders said they could no longer make money in Florida and left the state, some moving across the border to Georgia. Florida is better off without them, Drysdale says.

What does Rod Aycox know about Julie Pung-Leschke that voters in Oshkosh do not?

Why does Julie Pung-Leschke accept money from lenders who dishonestly prey on American Troops?