A political expert says the ongoing battle over remarks made by Texas Finance Commission Chairman William White, who is also vice president of Cash America, a payday lending company, is a glimpse at how the rest of the 2014 governor’s race will play out.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis called for White to resign from his position following comments he made about consumers and payday lending companies, saying that White's position at a such a company compromises his ability to act as a fair regulator of the industry.
Both Attorney General Greg Abbott, who is the likely Republican nominee for the 2014 governor's race, and Davis have stepped up targeted campaigning and are starting to dig into one another's past on the payday loan issue.
This week Davis released reports showing Abbott received hundreds of thousands of dollars from leaders of the payday lending industry and Abbott also released Davis’ voting record showing that she helped confirm White in 2011.
Professor Cal Jillson, who teaches political science at South Methodist University, said both candidates have a long history of decisions and votes.
"And some of them are difficult to explain after the fact and so we are going to see data-mining of their political records as part of the campaign," Jillson said.
Jillson said Abbott isn’t the only Republican official to benefit from the payday lending lobby. He said the key point isn’t so much Davis criticizing Abbott, or vice versa, it is an insight into how Texas politics works.
"The fact that we have a very lightly-regulated payday loan industry with a vice president of one of the major payday loan companies over in charge of the oversight committee is a window into Texas state politics and what you see through that window is ugly," Jillson said.
This week Abbott's campaign issued a statement in response to Davis' call for White to resign or be removed:
"Perhaps unknown to Sen. Davis is state law mandates that an industry executives serve on the Finance Commission."