Mailboxes across Clark County have been flooded with campaign advertisements that say in all capital letters: “Kyle Koehler isn’t doing his job.”
Koehler, a Republican state lawmaker from Springfield who spent the past 18 months pushing a controversial payday lending industry reform bill, said he’d like to know who is behind the attack.
“I was warned this would happen. When you stand up to do the right thing, people stand up against you,” he said. “Payday lending reform was the right thing to do.”
The only hint is the return address — a post office box in Washington, D.C. — and a group called United for Clean Power. The organization also created a Facebook page in September and has run pop up ads on conservative news sites such as Breitbart and Daily Caller.
Campaign finance reports, which might disclose who is behind United for Clean Power, are due later this month.
The content of the attacks don’t mention clean power or payday lending.
Koehler is running for re-election in November to the Ohio House against Democrat Amanda Finfrock.
“We have no clue,” said Finfrock campaign spokesman Brad Minerd when asked about the source of the negative ads. “Amanda’s father got one in the mail himself and that’s how we found out about it.”
A spokesman for the Ohio House Republicans Organizing Committee said it appears Koehler is the only target of United for Clean Power in Ohio.
Patrick Crowley, spokesman for the Ohio Consumer Lenders Association, which represents a segment of payday lenders, said, “It’s not us.”
House Bill 123, introduced in March 2017, failed to get traction until April 2018 when this newspaper reported that then Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger, R-Clarksville, hired a criminal defense attorney to address an FBI investigation into his travels with payday lenders. Days after that report, Rosenberger resigned.
In May, FBI agents raided Rosenberger’s house and storage unit. A federal search warrant and subpoena received by the Ohio House and released in August shows authorities are targeting Rosenberger and three representatives of the payday lending industry — lobbyists Steve Dimon and Leslie Gaines, and Advance America executive Carol Stewart.
In June, the House passed the payday lending reform bill without amendments on a 71-17 vote and the Senate agreed to it in July on a 21-9 vote. The new regulations take effect Oct. 29.
Springfield Rev. Carl Ruby led a statewide effort to push for the legislation.
“I think Ohio went from being one of the least regulated and state where there is the most abuse to the state with one of the very best laws,” Ruby said after the bill was approved.
There are 13 such stores in Springfield and Urbana, many clustered on East Main and South Limestone streets. Ohio in all has more than 830 storefronts that offer payday or car title loans, according to a report by the Center for Responsible Lending.
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