William E. Saunders Jr., also known as Ted “Watergate” Saunders, has been the Chief Executive Officer of payday lender Community Choice Financial, Inc. since June 2008.
Saunders has long fought to block regulation of the payday lending industry. Recently, he equated a supposed federal crackdown on payday lenders with Watergate and called it “government overreach.” He also equated closing payday lending stores with closing hospitals. Seriously.
In 2008, he complained that a measure democratically approved by Ohio voters that capped interest rates on payday loans at 28 percent APR would close his business and cause layoffs. After the measure was passed, however, Saunders took advantage of loopholes in the law to earn the same triple-digit interest rates on payday loans that he had before, yet still complained that he wasn’t making enough profit.
He called efforts to close those loopholes a “witch hunt.” Saunders also offered a prepaid debit card to customers to get around the law that included a 400 percent APR, which he said he was “proud to provide” and that criticism of those cards was a “new low.”
Saunders has claimed that any criticism of payday loans was insulting to his costumers and that they were “appreciative” of the loans. At the same time, he blamed customers who got into a cycle of debt for abusing the loans he offered. He even attempted to offer financial advice to college graduates by telling them to avoid “accumulating too much debt.”
Despite Saunders’ claims that new regulations would put him out of business and force layoffs, his company has earned millions in profits since regulations were passed in Ohio in 2008.
Since 2011, Saunders has personally earned over $8 million not including a $6.4 million retention bonus that he will be paid out over the next three years starting this year. Not only does he earn millions in salaries and bonuses, the company also picks up the tab for lavish perks like $11,400 for automobile expenses, personal use of the corporate jet, and a personal trainer. Last year, he was even reimbursed for moving expenses when he moved from his $750,000 home in Columbus, Ohio to a new $2.1 million home in the same city. Saunders also owns a $1.3 million vacation home in Savannah, Georgia. Yep, trapping consumers in a cycle of debt has paid of handsomely for Ted “Watergate” Saunders.
It’s paid off for others too. During the past three election cycles, Saunders has contributed nearly $30,000 to the campaigns of Members of Congress and payday lending special interest PACs, which have also donated large sums of money to the campaigns of elected officials.
- 06/30/2007 – $2000 – Citizens For Gillmor
- 07/13/2007 – $1000 – Friends Of John Boehner
- 08/13/2007 – $1000 – Shelby For U S Senate
- 09/18/2007 – $1000 – Stephanie Tubbs Jones For US Congress
- 11/28/2007 – $5000 – Checksmart Financial LLC PAC
- 12/02/2007 – $2000 – Tiberi For Congress
- 10/27/2008 – $1000 – Maloney For Congress
- 07/27/2009 – $1000 – Georgians For Isakson
- 10/25/2010 – $5000 – Checksmart Financial LLC PAC
- 12/27/2011 – $5000 – Checksmart Financial LLC PAC
- 12/31/2012 – $5000 – Checksmart Financial LLC PAC
- Total – $29,000
Prior to his role as CEO at Community Choice Financial, Saunders served as its Chief Financial Officer from March 2006 to June 2008. Previously, Saunders was a Vice President for Stephens, Inc., an investment bank from 2004 to 2006 and, prior to that, was an associate at Houlihan Lokey, an investment bank, SunTrust Equitable Securities, an investment bank, and Arthur Andersen, an accounting firm.
Citations: Marketline Newswire, 8/8/14; US Official News, 8/1/14; Columbus Dispatch, 7/26/14; Columbus Business First, 6/17/14; Columbus Business First, 6/11/14; Columbus Business First, 6/11/14; TheStreet.com, 2/27/14; Business First of Columbus, 9/28/12; Business First of Columbus, 5/18/12; Columbus Dispatch, 5/5/12; Birmingham News, 1/20/12; Columbus Dispatch, 12/11/11; Columbus Business First, 9/2/11; News-Herald, 10/17/10; Newark Advocate, 5/3/10; Columbus Dispatch, 4/17/10Associated Press, 4/8/10; Cleveland Plain Dealer, 10/24/09; Columbus Dispatch, 6/20/09; WCMH, 2/27/09; Cincinnati Enquirer, 2/18/09; Columbus Dispatch, 2/18/09; Cleveland Plain Dealer, 2/16/09; Newark Advocate, 11/17/08; Dayton Daily News, 11/7/08; Newark Advocate, 10/16/08; SEC Filings, Community Choice Financial; Property Records, Zillow]