Kip Cashmore almost doesn’t need a nickname since he appears to have been named with his life’s work in mind. The owner of USA Cash Services – a payday lender with dozens of stores in the western United States – Cashmore’s claim to fame is having been identified in an investigation of Utah Attorney General John Swallow for donating tens-of-thousands of dollars through a web of non-profits to conceal his identity. The contributions were made after Swallow told Cashmore that he would be an ally against regulating the payday lending industry. Swallow even thanked Cashmore for his help on Election Day via text message. Is there an emoticon for shady?
The fiasco with Utah’s Attorney General is not the only scandal in which Cashmore has been involved. One of Amway’s top salespeople, Cashmore made a whopping $475,000 profit from a Ponzi scheme while others lost their shirts. The head of the scheme was sentenced to prison for defrauding 500 other people out of $8 million.
The larger scandal may actually be Cashmore’s steadfast opposition to payday lending reforms that protect hardworking families. When legislation was proposed in the Utah State House that would have limited interest rates on payday loans, Cashmore said the restrictions weren’t needed because consumers were happy. In fact, Cashmore said of the efforts to reform his industry in Utah, “I really don’t know what… problem we’re trying to take care of.” Perhaps Cashmore doesn’t see his customers being trapped in a cycle of crippling debt as much of a problem. It is simply his livelihood.
And what a livelihood it has been. Selling payday loans has paid off quite handsomely for Cashmore who has made millions of dollars and owns a spacious 6,700 square foot mansion in Ogden, Utah where he hosts “huge” trampoline parties and has built a lavish 40-acre subdivision called Eden Lake Meadows.
It’s paid off for others too. Over the past few years, Cashmore has contributed more than $40,000 to the campaigns of Members of Congress and payday lending industry special interest PACs that, in turn, contribute heavily to the campaigns of Members of Congress and other elected officials.
Cashmore Owns 37 Payday Lending Locations
- Cashmore’s USA Cash Services Has 37 Locations in California, Idaho, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming. “We opened our first store in 1995. In 2001, we made our payday loans even more convenient by offering them online. We have expanded into multiple states with 37 locations to better serve our customers.” [USA Cash Services Website]
Cashmore Has Been Connected to a String of Financial and Political Scandals
- Cashmore Was Involved in Scheme to Peddle Secret Cash to Utah’s Attorney General in Exchange for His Support of The Payday Industry
- Utah Attorney General Candidate John Swallow Wrote an Email to Cashmore Saying He Wanted to Raise $100,000 in Payday Loan Money and Directed Cashmore Where to Contribute the Money. “In the email to Cashmore, Swallow said he wanted to raise $100,000 from the payday loan industry in 2011. He asked that payday money go to then-Attorney General Mark Shurtleff’s political action committee Utah’s Prosperity Foundation and that non-payday money go to his PAC. Swallow ends the message, “Please do not forward this email.” [KSL, 12/20/13]
- Swallow Wrote Email to Cashmore Saying He Would Go to Bat for Payday Lenders Against Federal Consumer Protection Regulators. “John Swallow did not want voters to see him as the payday loan candidate, so his campaign devised a strategy to hide hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions he received from the industry. At the same time, Swallow told payday lenders he would go to bat for them with federal consumer protection regulators if elected attorney general. ‘I am ready and willing to help lead out on that,’ he wrote in a June 29, 2011, email to Kip Cashmore, a payday loan industry leader in Utah. Chief investigator Jim Mintz told the Utah House Special Investigative Committee on Friday that Swallow’s 2012 run for attorney general had three aspects — transparent, obscured and hidden.” [KSL, 12/20/13]
- Swallow Set up a Web of Vaguely Named Non-Profits to Mask Nearly $1 Million in Payday Lender Money. “Mr. Swallow and his campaign, they say, exploited a web of vaguely named nonprofit organizations in several states to mask hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from payday lenders. His campaign strategist, Jason Powers, both established the groups — known as 501(c)(4)s after the section of the federal tax code that governs them — and raked in consulting fees as the cash moved between them. And affidavits filed by the Utah State Bureau of Investigation suggest that Mr. Powers may have falsified tax documents submitted to the Internal Revenue Service. ‘What the Swallow case raises is the possibility that political money is never really traceable,’ said David Donnelly, executive director of the Public Campaign Action Fund which advocates stricter campaign finance laws.”[New York Times, 3/18/14]
- Swallow Wrote an Email to Cashmore Telling Him How to Raise More Money and That Due to the CFPB, Payday Lenders Needed an Attorney General Who Would Go “to Bat for the Industry.” “In June 2011, after receiving a commitment of $100,000 from members of a payday lending association, Mr. Swallow wrote an email to Mr. Rawle and to Kip Cashmore, the founder of another payday company, pitching them on how to raise even more. Mr. Swallow said he would seek to bolster the industry among other attorneys general and lead opposition to new consumer protection bureau rules. ‘This industry will be a focus of the CFPB unless a group of AG’s goes to bat for the industry,’ he warned.” [New York Times, 3/18/14]
- The Entities Set Up to Collect Money for Swallow from Payday Lenders Totaled over $700,000, Including $100,000 from Cashmore’s Company. “Between December 2011 and August 2012, Utah’s Prosperity Foundation contributed $262,000 to Mr. Swallow’s campaign, more than one of every six dollars he raised. About $30,000 in contributions to the foundation during the campaign came from four out-of-state payday companies. But the biggest payday contributions went into the new nonprofit. The Proper Role of Government Education Association collected $452,000 during the campaign, most of it from the payday industry. Mr. Rawle himself allegedly provided $100,000 in secret money to Mr. Swallow’s effort. Mr. Cashmore’s company and others provided about $100,000.” [New York Times, 3/18/14]
- When Swallow Won the Utah Attorney General’s Race, He Texted Cashmore Thanking Him for His Help. “Mr. Swallow beat Mr. Reyes in the primary and went on to win the general election handily in November. Mr. Rawle did not live to see his protégé take office: He died of cancer in December 2012, at age 73. Mr. Swallow was sworn in a few weeks later. That same day, according to the investigators, he sent a text to Mr. Cashmore, thanking him for his help.” [New York Times, 3/18/14]
- Swallow’s Email to Cashmore Noted the “Far Reaching Power” Given to Utah’s Attorney General Under the CFPB. “The email was directed to Kip Cashmore, who headed a payday lender in Ogden, Utah, called USA Cash Services and who was vice president of the Utah Consumer Lending Association (the same association that Mr. Swallow reportedly steered to Guidant Strategies). Copied on the email was Mr. Rawle, payday heavyweight and patron of Mr. Swallow. Ex. 41. Mr. Swallow wrote: As AG, I will be in a position to help other AGs understand the importance of the cash advance industry. With the passage of the Dodd Frank bill, the CFPB [the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau] was created, giving far reaching power to the State AGs. This industry will be a focus of the CFPB unless a group of AG’s [sic] goes to bat for the industry. I am ready and willing to help lead out on that, and having worked with the Utah Association and also in Montana and Wyoming, I well understand and can help create a critical mass of support among the conservative AGs. I have already presented on a panel before AG’s [sic] on the CFPB issue. [Utah House of Representatives, Report of the Special Investigative Committee, 3/11/14]
- Cashmore Is Tied to Amway and Made a Killing in a Huge Ponzi Scheme
- Cashmore and His Wife Are Top-sellers of Amway Products. [Amway January 2009 Newsletter]
- Cashmore Made a Whopping $475,000 Profit from a Ponzi Scheme. “A bankruptcy probe has reclaimed enough of Wayne Ogden’s assets to return $1 million to the victims of his real estate scam. Bankruptcy trustee Steve Bailey promises there will be even more when he recovers millions from Ogden’s former business partners and others who profited from the scheme. That includes $1.7 million from Josh Christensen, $458,000 from Dar Nelson, and $475,000 from Amway contractor Kip Cashmore. [AP, 3/19/00]
- The Head of the Ponzi Scheme Went to Prison for Defrauding 500 People out of $8 Million. “Ogden was sent to prison in July of 1998 for an investment proposal investigators said was a Ponzi scheme. He was granted a July 2001 parole date when he promised to pay all his victims back. Investigators estimated as many as 500 people were scammed out of $8 million between 1995 and 1997. Some of the jilted investors forced Ogden into bankruptcy in 1997, and since then 425 victims have filed claims worth $6.5 million with the bankruptcy court in Salt Lake City.” [AP, 3/19/00]
Cashmore Opposes Reforms That Protect Consumers from Payday Lenders
- Cashmore Opposed Rate Caps and Said He Didn’t Understand the Problem with Payday Loans
- Cashmore Testified Against a Bill in the Utah State House That Would Have Limited Interest on Payday Loans to 8%, Saying That the Restrictions Aren’t Needed Because Consumers Are Happy with Payday Loans. “Payday loan stores dodged a legislative bullet Tuesday that would have limited them to charging a mere 8 percent annual interest to extend their short-term loans — instead of the 521 percent median annual interest that they now charge…Kip Cashmore, vice president of the Utah Consumer Lenders Association, testified that restrictions Hogue proposes are not needed because most consumers are happy with payday loans. “Out of all the hundreds of thousands of transactions that the companies did last year, the (state) registered 22 complaints. That’s phenomenal,” he said. [Deseret Morning News, 2/22/06]
- Cashmore on Utah Legislation to Limit Loans to $500 and Giver Borrowers 30 Days to Repay: “I Really Don’t Know What Problem We’re Trying to Take Care of.” “Rep. Lou Shurtliff, D-Ogden, is pushing a bill that would limit loans to $500, give borrowers 30 days to repay them and collect data to better determine the industry’s effects, including the impact on people ‘caught up in the web that they can’t escape.’ ‘There are people that are struggling because of payday loans,’ she said, noting that payday lender locations are not in more-affluent neighborhoods. ‘Truth is, many of our citizens are being hurt by payday loans.’ She suggested the low complaint statistics may be due to customers’ embarrassment about their situations. Riesen noted that Utah has more payday lender locations than all 7-Eleven, Subway, McDonald’s and Burger King sites combined. He wants more oversight of the industry. ‘Payday lenders are taking unfair advantage — some say unconscionable advantage — of those in real need,’ Riesen said. Wendy Gibson, spokeswoman for the Utah Consumer Lending Association, said the association supports education for consumers, but studies indicate payday lenders are an important and less-expensive option for consumers needing money. She suggested holding off on more legislation until determining if the most recently passed law is effective. Gibson and Kip Cashmore, vice president of the association, said the market is working. ‘I really don’t know what problem we’re trying to take care of, with 30 complaints,’ Cashmore said.” [Deseret Morning News, 5/17/07]
- Operations Director for USA Cash Services Said They Would Stop Lending to Military Personnel and Dependents When the 36% Cap Goes into Effect Because They Won’t Make Enough Money. “Tom Despain is the operations director for USA Cash Services of Ogden, which operates 40 lending shops in seven states, including 12 in Utah. His company charges $10 per week for each $100 borrowed. He doesn’t believe the industry needs additional regulation because competition tends to drive out the bad operators. ‘Customers won’t go to a bad lender once they figure out they are a bad lender,’ he said. But by then, advocates say, it is too late. People who go to a bad lender are more likely to face serious financial difficulties, including bankruptcy. Too many stores? Like many operators, he is enraged at the steps cities have taken to limit the number of operations in their boundaries. ’It’s like saying you can’t have a McDonald’s next to a Burger King.’ Despain and Rawle of Check City also consider interest rate caps unreasonable. ‘What do you think McDonald’s would do if the federal government told them they had to sell quarter-pounders with cheese for 14 cents to the military?’ He contends McDonald’s would halt such sales, and his company has decided it will stop lending to military personnel and their dependents once the 36 percent cap goes into effect late next year. Under that cap, he said he would be able to charge about 70 cents per week for every $100 borrowed instead of the $10 per week he charges now. ‘We can’t even cover our costs [of doing business] and overhead if we were to take in only 70 cents,’ he said.” [Salt Lake Tribune, 12/17/06]
Perhaps That’s Because He Makes a Killing Selling Payday Loans
- Cashmore Owns a 6,700 Square Foot Mansion, Created a Subdivision Near His Home, and Hosts “Huge” Trampoline Parties
- Cashmore Owns a 6,729 Square Foot Mansion in Ogden, Utah with an Estimated Value of $1.1 Million Complete with a Pool, Basketball Court, and Room for His Boat. [Homesnap.com]
- Cashmore Created the 40.57-Acre Eden Lake Meadows Subdivision. [Ogden Valley Planning Commission Minutes, 3/27/07]
- Cashmore Hosted A “Huge” Weber State University Trampoline Party On His Land In Eden Lake. [YouTube, 7/11/12; YouTube, 7/11/12]
Cashmore Has Contributed More than $40,000 to the Campaigns of Members of Congress and Payday Lending Industry PACs.
- Over the Past Three Election Cycles, Cashmore Has Contributed More than $40,000 to the Campaigns of Members of Congress and Payday Lending Industry Special Interest PACs that, in Turn, Donate Heavily to the Campaigns of Members of Congress and Other Elected Officials.[OpenSecrets.org search, 8/27/14]
- 03/06/2008 – $5000 – Community Financial Services Association Of America PAC
- 06/30/2009 – $2000 – Pennsylvanians For Kanjorski
- 06/30/2009 – $1000 – Ed Royce For Congress
- 10/13/2009 – $1000 – Friends Of Bill Posey
- 10/20/2009 – $1000 – Bob Corker For Senate 2012
- 12/31/2009 – $2000 – Heath Shuler For Congress
- 03/06/2010 – $5000 – Democrats Win Seats PAC
- 07/26/2010 – $2000 – Friends For Gregory Meeks
- 07/30/2010 – $2000 – Defend America PAC
- 09/23/2010 – $4500 – Online Lenders Alliance PAC
- 03/29/2011 – $2000 – Matheson For Congress
- 03/31/2011 – $2000 – Friends Of Jason Chaffetz
- 06/28/2011 – $2000 – Barney Frank For Congress Committee
- 10/25/2011 – $1000 – Friends Of Pat Toomey
- 01/21/2012 – $2500 – Chris Herrod For US Senate
- 03/09/2012 – $2000 – Citizens For Josh Mandel Inc.
- 06/29/2012 – $2000 – David Vitter For US Senate
- 08/19/2013 – $1000 – Country Roads PAC
- 08/20/2013 – $1000 – McHenry For Congress
- 08/26/2013 – $1000 – Capito For West Virginia
- Total – $42,000