Columbia professor’s murky ties could compromise CFPB rollout

By: Kevin Dugan, New York Post, January 31, 2019

Getting the straight story on payday loans might be even trickier than it looks.

Since at least 2017, US regulators have relied on a single, “objective” academic study to shape restrictions on short-term, high-interest loans, which critics claim are prone to victimize cash-strapped borrowers.

But the Ivy League professor behind that study — which scrutinized in particular the causes behind delinquency rates in various states — has enjoyed cozy ties to a payday-lending executive and advised other academics on how to sway policymakers, The Post has learned.

Ronald Mann, who teaches at Columbia Law School, has done previously undisclosed work at the behest of Hilary Miller, the president of the Short-Term Loan Bar Association, an industry group of payday lawyers, according to e-mails obtained by The Post.

The previously unreported e-mails, provided to The Post by the Campaign for Accountability, are surfacing as the US Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is using research by Mann as it prepares to nix the rollout of payday-loan restrictions that the agency proposed in 2017.

Miller declined to comment on the e-mails. Priestley and the CFPB also declined to comment.

Mann — whose 2013 study argues that most payday-loan borrowers understand the risks— told The Post he’s known Miller for “many years” and said he routinely comments on colleagues’ papers.

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