“We’re just modernizing the law,” Royce E. Everette, Jr., told the News & Observer, “making sure everything is clear.” Everette chairs the legislative committee of the Residents Lenders of North Carolina. His family owns Time Investment, a Greenville-based chain of financing stores.
Everette is also one of the most prolific political donors in the state, according to an analysis by Democracy North Carolina, a nonpartisan watchdog group. In the past four years, he has donated to over 60 state legislators and given at least $188,000 to state campaigns and parties. His mother and company co-owner, Gail N. Blanton, donated another $49,200 in that period.
All totaled, about two dozen consumer lenders and their two PACs (Resident Lenders of NC PAC and Security Financing Corp. PAC) gave at least $530,000 to state politicians and party committees from January 2013 to December 2016.
The top recipient of the industry’s money is the state Senate’s leader, President Pro Tem Phil Berger, who took in $48,250. In a surprise move, Berger let the industry’s amendment be added to the dental bill (H-140) on the Senate floor in the final days of the 2017 regular session. It received little debate and was not engrossed in the adopted bill, which shielded it from attention as the bill moved back to the state House for a final vote.
[Read news report about the current controversy involving credit insurance]
“This industry has a pattern of winning legislation based on its campaign money rather than the legislation’s merits,” said Bob Hall, executive director of Democracy North Carolina. “It happened in 2011, when Republican leaders in the General Assembly pressured legislators to increase interest rates on consumer loans as a payback for the industry’s surge in donations to the party’s candidates in 2010. And now it’s happening again.”