Campaign for Accountability Seeks Answers About Payday Lending Study By Kennesaw State University Professor
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 10, 2015
Contact: Daniel Stevens, email@example.com, 202.780.5750
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Campaign for Accountability (CfA) filed an open records request seeking information about a study of the payday lending industry conducted by a professor at Kennesaw State University in Georgia. CfA is investigating any connections between the payday lending industry and the author of a favorable study concerning the industry’s practices.
Jennifer Lewis Priestley, a professor of Statistics and Data Science at Kennesaw State University, conducted a study of payday loan rollovers. Priestley’s study “casts doubt on the claims of payday loan critics that extended refinancing of these loans is harmful to consumers’ financial welfare” according to a university press release from 2014.
Professor Priestley received a $30,000 grant from the Consumer Credit Research Foundation (CCRF) to conduct the study, more than double the next largest grant she received in 2014. CCRF is funded by financial institutions, which include payday lenders.
In the open records request, CfA Executive Director Anne Weismann wrote, “[CCRF’s] funding of Priestley’s project raises serious questions about the objectivity of Professor Priestley’s study and the extent to which it was tainted by industry-financed bias.”
Payday lending is a $46 billion industry that is frequently reviled as burdening consumers with debts from which they cannot escape. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has found most borrowers renew their loans so many times that they pay far more in fees than the amount of money initially borrowed, effectively trapping them in an endless cycle of debt.
UPDATE: June 19, 2015
Today, CCRF filed a lawsuit in the Superior Court of Fulton County, Georgia, seeking to prevent the release of the records CfA requested. CCRF is trying to prevent Kennesaw State from releasing the requested records despite the university’s conclusion that CfA is entitled to the records.
UPDATE: August 19, 2016
Today, the Superior Court of Fulton County concluded that the documents CfA requested should be released under the Georgia Open Records Act. CCRF appealed the ruling to the Court of Appeals of Georgia.
UPDATE: May 4, 2017
Today, the Court of Appeals of Georgia reversed the Superior Court’s decision preventing Kennesaw State from releasing the requested documents to CfA. CfA appealed the decision to the Georgia Supreme Court.
UPDATE: October 16, 2017
Today, the Supreme Court of Georgia granted CfA’s writ of certiorari and assigned the case to its February 2018 oral argument calendar.
UPDATE: June 18, 2018
Today, the Supreme Court of Georgia unanimously ruled in CfA’s favor and ordered the release of the requested records.
Campaign for Accountability is a nonpartisan, nonprofit watchdog organization that uses research, litigation, and aggressive communications to expose misconduct and malfeasance in public life and hold those who act at the expense of the public good accountable for their actions.