The Campaign for Accountability, a Washington-based non-profit watchdog group, filed an ethics complaint Thursday against 14 members of Congress, including Alabama Senator Richard Shelby. The complaint says Shelby and others accepted campaign contributions from the payday lending industry while supporting industry-backed legislation.
The complaint asks the Senate Ethics Committee to investigate whether Shelby violated congressional rules or criminal law. The Campaign for Accountability cites an amendment Shelby offered in 2010 and a vote he took in 2015 as evidence he intended to weaken the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, something payday lenders wanted.
Daniel Stevens, executive director of the Campaign for Accountability, says Shelby received about $46,000 dollars from payday industry executives and PACs just a few weeks before the 2015 vote.
“They weren’t just giving it to Shelby because they like him,” says Stevens. “This industry contributes to Shelby’s campaign because they expect him to advocate for their priorities. In this case it seems to have worked.”
A spokeswoman for Shelby says he votes based on the substance of a policy and to suggest otherwise is ridiculous. She says the Senator has had long-standing concerns about the structure of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.