Topeka U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., is being accused of misrepresenting to the Defense Department the comments of a consumer advocate to shore up Brownback’s argument against more regulation of auto loans.
Brownback, who is running for governor in Kansas, was criticized Tuesday by Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Holland, a state senator from Baldwin City.
“Sam Brownback is trying to trick people at the Defense Department by misusing quotes and twisting words. This is the type of Washington politics we can’t afford to have here in Kansas,” Holland said.
At the center of the dispute is the debate in Congress over financial regulatory reform.
The Defense Department, credit unions and numerous military organizations want auto dealers to come under the oversight of the proposed consumer financial protection agency. Military officials say a large number of soldiers become victim to unscrupulous auto lending and that detracts their focus from their work.
But Brownback has put together an amendment to exempt auto dealers that assist customers in financing from the proposed consumer protection agency.
Brownback has argued that auto dealers are already subject to current state and federal laws, and that adding more regulation will hamper lending and hurt consumers by increasing the costs of vehicles.
“Auto dealers are a part of Main Street, not Wall Street, and they are not responsible for the financial meltdown,” he said.
Last week, Brownback wrote a letter to Undersecretary of Defense Clifford Stanley. In that letter, Brownback referred to Raj Date, executive director of the Cambridge Winter Center for Financial Institutions Policy. “CNN Money on May 13 reported that ‘Raj Date ... agreed that the additional (Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection) regulation might cause some dealers to stop arranging loans,” Brownback said in the letter.
But Brownback’s letter did not include the rest of Date’s comment, which was this, “There will be some dealers who say, ‘If I have to play by an honest set [of] rules, then I can’t be in this business anymore.’ I’m not going to shed any tears for these dealers.”
Asked about the letter, Brownback’s office did not immediately return a request for comment.