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Tribes slam 'declaration of war' on online lending businesses

An Obama administration official has issued a "declaration of war" on payday loan businesses in Indian Country, according to one tribal leader.

Responding to pressure from state governments, Richard Cordray said his agency, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and the Federal Trade Commission, are looking at online lending businesses owned by tribes. The comments drew criticism from the Native American Fair Commerce Coalition.

"The statements by Director Cordray are essentially a declaration of war against Native American tribal governments," said Charles Moncooyea, the vice chairman of the Otoe-Missouria Tribe of Oklahoma. "The Director's comments and threats are demeaning, misguided, discriminatory and patently false."

"The fact is our tribe -- and tribes nationwide -- benefit from the positive economic impact from these and other business activities, with revenues directed towards such critical needs as medical care, education and many other basic necessities. We will not cower in the face of these malicious and dangerous attacks," added Moncooyea, whose tribe is a part of the NAFCC.

State authorities across the country have gone after tribal lending businesses but have run into sovereign immunity barriers. A federal agency, however, might be able to obtain documents and other information from tribes.

"We urge Director Cordray to learn his history and understand in no uncertain terms the tribes' inherent right to govern themselves and their lands. The Director also seems to be ignoring President Obama's commitment to consult with tribal governments on issues that directly affect their sovereignty," said Barry Brandon, the exective director of the NAFCC.

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Opinion: Tribal payday loan firms are a new online menace (2/27)
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