Sen. Wendy Davis is intensifying criticisms against Attorney General Greg Abbott over what she calls his support for predatory lenders in Texas.

In the latest attack since the new year, The Lone Star Project issued a press release Monday, accusing Abbott’s office of issuing the “key document that has allowed payday lenders to operate outside of Texas usury laws and exploit Texans across our state.”

The Lone Star Project references a letter sent from the AG’s office to the Office of the Consumer Credit Commissioner in 2006. The letter was in response to requests that the attorney general investigate claims that payday lenders “violate state consumer lending laws.”

In response, Abbott’s office indicated that the lenders, acting as credit service organizations, were in fact, in compliance with state finance laws. The letter also stated that there is “no limit in the CSO statutes on the amount of fees that may be charged by a CSO.” The attorney general stopped short, however, of issuing a formal opinion.

This controversy began following comments Texas Finance Commission Chair William White made to the El Paso Times about payday loan customers. White also serves as vice president for Cash America International, a company with more than 900 stores providing cash advances and pawn loans. In a statement, Davis called his dual obligations a “blatant conflict of interest.”

“William White can’t protect Texas consumers while he represents a predatory lending company on the side,” Davis said. “Mr. White should resign from his post – and if he won’t, Governor Perry should remove him.”

Davis also pointed out that Abbott has accepted huge sums of money from payday lenders.

Attorney General Abbott’s campaign has not responded to these latest attacks. However last week, his office issued this statement dismissing Davis’ claims as “election-year hypocrisy.”

“Sen. Wendy Davis’ statement is blatant election-year hypocrisy. Perhaps unknown to Sen. Davis, state law mandates that industry executives serve on the Finance Commission, and Sen. Davis voted to confirm William White to his position. Sen. Davis also had two opportunities to amend bills pertaining to the requirements to serve on the Commission, and both times Sen. Davis chose not to do so. Before calling for the resignations of those she voted to confirm, Sen. Davis might take a hard look at a her own record.”

“Greg Abbott has been a determined advocate of transparency and ethics in government and has laid out substantial reforms to improve public confidence in state government. He’ll use the same guidelines when making appointments if elected Governor.” 

You can read the full letter, below.

Payday Lending Letter