Monday, December 10, 2012


It could be that Stark Countians are beginning to learn where state Representative Christina Hagan's (Republican - Marlboro) "legislative" heart lies.

Is her heart with people who are much more capable of fending for themselves or is it with folks who are struggling to make ends meet and are getting worked over by the payday lender crowd?

The SCPR notes that in October Hagan rolled out her public relations machine to bring attention to the fact that she was making fixing Ohio's securities laws a top priority.

Her announced motivation?

To put a stop to the likes of the $200 million investor fraud scheme uncovered about three years ago at the now defunct Fair Finance of Akron (Summit County).

"Fair enough" (no pun intended), but she fails to make the case that her initiative will do anything to stop a repeat by other financial schemers who will undoubtedly surface in the coming months and years in Ohio.

There is nothing preventive in her legislation.  All it does is:
  • to provide for fining authority for those who violate state securities law, and
  • to empower state government to recoup costs and expenses of investigations launched by state securities officials.
In her press release, she makes no case whatsoever that had her proposed legislation be the law of Ohio, let's say in 2008, that the Fair Finance debacle would not have happened.

Moreover, she is looking out for people who have some ability to protect themselves, that is to say, the investor class.

First, if something is "too good to be true," they should not be investing in the first place, and,

Second, this is discretionary money.  It is not money that the investors are using to live day-to-day.

But as far as Hagan's legislation goes, there is nothing wrong about it.  It seems to be all about self-promotion in a mode of "much ado about nothing."

What her introducing of this bill shows is that she is following a pattern she is obviously hard at work establishing of introducing bills that have very little "umph" to them in terms of "real" benefit to Ohioans but gets her mileage with lazy journalists who take officeholder press releases and publish them with very little, if any, analysis as to their import to the ordinary citizen.

The SCPR thinks that there are "bigger fish to fry" for Ohioans who are defenseless from the interests of powerful financial interests.

However, the class of Ohioans with a pressing need to be protected are from the debtor class.  Not exactly the people that Christina Hagan cares about.

These folks are among the most vulnerable to the predatory practices of some in the financial community and because they are at the bottom end of the Romney-described 47% cannot get the likes of Christina Hagan to look out for them.

More particularly, we are talking about Ohioans who, in order to make it from one day to the next, have the unfortunate need to use the services of payday lenders.

Tom Suddes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer (in yesterday's edition - LINK) provides an example of a deficiency in Ohio law that Ms. Hagan if she cares anything about "the down and out" would address pronto.

And, it is just not Hagan, but also other members of the Stark County delegation (Oelslager, the Ohio Senate - R, the 29th; Ohio House members Schuring - R, 48th; Slesnick D, 49th) to the Ohio General Assembly who ought to fixing the gap in Ohio law that allows some in the financial sector who would, if they can massage the legal loophole charge as much as 235.48% interest to borrowers who are struggling to "put food on the tables" that their children dine at.

Back in 2008, the Ohio General Assembly voted to curb predatory lending practices in Ohio but enacting House Bill 545 which capped the interest level at 28%.

That part of the financial industry spent about $20 million dollars to defeat that measure (LINK).

Guess who voted with those who opposed the 28% cap?

You've got it!

None other than John P. Hagan, father of Christina.  He represented the 50th (a little different configuration) from 2000 through 2008.

What's the saying?  "An apple does not fall far from the tree."  Hmm?

To their credit, Kirk Schuring (then in the Ohio Senate), and Scott Oelslager (then in the Ohio House) and Slesnick voted to impose the 28% cap, which, by the way, is not exactly chicken feed.

So now that we know that Christina Hagan is willing to impose government regulations, should we expect that she knows that the payday lending crowd is trying to use a "seeming" loophole in Ohio's mortgage-loan law to attempt the 235.48% smash-down on everydays struggling to get from week-to-week, that her next bill will be to shore up the mortgage-loan law?

The SCPR says "seeming" loophole in agreement with Suddes because the Ohio Ninth District Court of Appeals (sitting in Akron and covering Summit, Median, Lorain and Wayne counties) ruled 2 to 1 to limit the would-be predators to the 28% caps of House Bill 545 despite the industry's attempt to fit within the loophole of the mortgage-loan law.

Accordingly, the 28% caps is only the "clear" law in four of Ohio's 88 counties.

So Christina Hagan can do Stark Countians, and, indeed all Ohioans, good by getting busy lickety-split to introduce a measure to protect those least able to protect themselves to close that gap in the mortgage-loan law.

Will she do so?

Not likey.

Why not?

First, doing so will take disagreeing with her father in public.

Secondly, she has been the beneficiary of campaign contributions from the payday industry.

So it is likely safe to say that Christina Hagan's concern for shoring up deficiencies in Ohio financial law only runs so deep and it doesn't include the bottom of the run-of-the-mill American/Ohioan 47%.

From her pre-general campaign finance report filed with the Ohio secretary of state:

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