The payday loan industry, after getting hammered the past few months, is getting more proactive in pursuing their agenda; satisfactory payday loan laws, legislation and regulation.
Advance America (AEA), with nealy 2900 locations in 33 states plus the UK and Canada, hired Tony S. Colletti to serve as a Company director. This is a big deal! Tony Colletti runs Colletti & Assoc. a public relations company out of Chicago; isn’t that ironic! The guy comes from Chicago (Obama land) and has experience and connections throughout the payday loan industry and the regulatory purgatory the payday loan industry is in.
We’re very upbeat about this appointment. Advance America, amongst many others, is a very large and profitable payday loan company whose agenda includes fighting for the rights of consumers to have access to multiple financial products and in defending our industry and all the employees, business operators, commercial property owners that depend on the micro-lending niche.
Our expectation is that Mr Colletti and his peers in the payday loan industry can communicate to legislators that, in general, it isn’t consumers who complain about our products. When one digs down to the roots of any complaints, it’s the so-called consumer protectionists, who have their own agendas, and competitors such as banks, credit unions, installment lenders and credit card companies.
Mr. Colletti, age 56, is the founder of Colletti & Associates, a public affairs consultant. Mr. Colletti was also formerly an employee of Multistate Associates Incorporated, a state and local government relations services company, which provides government relations and outsourced management services to the Community Financial Services Association of America (“CFSA“), a national trade association for the payday cash advance services industry. Via Multistate, Mr. Colletti served as executive vice president of the CFSA from 2004 through 2007. Prior to this, Mr. Colletti was the General Counsel and Senior Vice President of Check Into Cash, Inc. from 2001 to 2004. Mr. Colletti previously was engaged in the private practice of law.
Advance America is a founding member of the CFSA, a not-for-profit payday loan organization.
Multistate provides management services to CFSA, including the outsourced employment of all CFSA personnel. Multistate also provides government relations and management services to numerous entities not affiliated with the Advance America or the CFSA.
As a member of the CFSA, Advance America supports the CFSA through the payment of membership dues and assessments. Additionally, Advance America supports various legislative and public relations initiatives for the payday cash advance services industry sponsored by the CFSA. On behalf of the CFSA, Multistate has in the past engaged Mr. Colletti as an independent contractor in connection with these activities.
During 2008, the Advance America contributed an $314,500 to the CFSA in regular annual membership dues and assessments. Additionally, Advance America made payments totaling $125,179 to the CFSA or directly to Multistate in 2008 in support of projects for which Mr. Colletti was retained by Multistate as a consultant on behalf of the CFSA. Advance America also provided funds to the CFSA or Multistate in 2008 to support other projects in which Mr. Colletti did not have an interest.
During 2008, Mr. Colletti received a salary of $119,000 and health, dental and other customary benefits as an employee of Multistate. Mr. Colletti received additional payments in 2008 totaling $64,565 from Multistate for his services as an independent consultant on certain projects financially supported by the CFSA and Advance America. Beginning in 2009, Mr. Colletti is engaged by Advance America directly on two separate government relations initiatives for which he will be paid by Advance America monthly consulting fees of $5,000 and $10,000, respectively. The first initiative is for an indeterminant period. The second is expected to terminate at the end of 2009. Mr. Colletti also will be paid by Advance America the standard board fees for its non-employee directors of $70,000 per year plus $1,000 for each meeting of the Board or its committees that he attends.
Regarding Mr. Colletti’s appointment Billy Webster, Advance America’s Chairman, stated: “Tony Colletti is one of the premier government relations experts in the United States. In addition, Tony understands that hardworking families deserve the freedom to chose among their credit options, and that millions of Americans use our products and services to help them overcome unexpected financial difficulties. We are fortunate to have someone with his knowledge of our industry and business experience serving on our board. We will greatly benefit from his expertise.”