WASHINGTON — Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s (D-Fla.) support for payday lenders has been earning her some enemies on the left, and she can add one more to the list: the insurgent Democratic candidate for Senate in Pennsylvania.
John Fetterman, the mayor of Braddock, Pennsylvania, recently called for Wasserman Schultz to resign, and doubled down on that call Thursday in an interview with a local news station, accusing his party’s leader of colluding with payday lenders.
Wasserman Schultz sparked the ire of the left when she co-sponsored legislation to undercut forthcoming payday loan reforms from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. She’s also been criticized by her own Democratic primary opponent for taking campaign contributions from the loan industry.
Asked by WTAE’s Jackie Cain if his opposition to the party’s chairwoman was “a bold move,” Fetterman, a decidedly non-traditional politician, said it was more a matter of common decency.
“I wouldn’t call it a bold move. I would call it an appropriate one given her collusion with the sub-prime, payday loan, lending machine,” Fetterman said. “I can’t imagine — the average interest rate they charge is 309 percent — as a Democrat, how could you get in bed with those kind of people?”
He also pointed to her campaign’s donors.
“The fact that she would take tens of thousands of dollars from that industry, and the fact that she would try to pass legislation that benefits that industry — it’s deeply disappointing particularly for the head of the DNC,” Fetterman said.
The DNC’s press office did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment, but Wasserman Schultz’s campaign told HuffPost last month that she was looking out for Florida, and thought Florida’s payday loan law was a good one.
“As a state lawmaker, she helped write Florida’s law that has sharply reduced the need to go to bad actors, curbed predatory practices and created standards and protections for low-income borrowers,” spokesman Sean Bartlett said in a statement. “The Congresswoman wants to work with the CFPB on the way forward, and believes the Florida law is an example of how to achieve their shared goals of balancing strong consumer protections with preserving access to credit in underserved communities.”
Fetterman is not well-known in most of Pennsylvania, and is currently third in most polls for the seat’s Democratic primary, trailing former Rep. Joe Sestak as well as the faltering Democratic Party-endorsed candidate, Katie McGinty, a former aide to Gov. Tom Wolf. Fetterman still sees a chance, however, because few Pennsylvania voters say their minds are made up.
Watch Fetterman’s comments on Wasserman Schultz below, and the full interview on WTAE.