The Truth about “Payday Paton”

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

A few weeks ago the Arizona Daily Star published a "fact check" piece on Sen. Jonathan "Payday Paton" and his lobbying activities for the payday loan industry when he was a lobbyist. The Star used the opportunity to publish the specious retort from the Paton campaign from former Star reporter Daniel Scarpinato that Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is a "payday heiress" because her family owns commercial property that leased space to payday lenders.

Yeah, that's exactly like being a registered lobbyist being paid to lobby members of the legislature on behalf of the payday lender industry. Playing "six degrees of Kevin Bacon" is what passes for witty retort from Scarpinato. I hope Paton is not paying this guy.

In fairness to the Star, despite giving this punk Scarpinato an opportunity to smear Giffords, the fact check piece did demolish his specious smear.

It is what followed that interests me. The Star published this article Sonoita-Elgin Tea Party wants campaign guide in which it was reported that:

The issue began with an e-mail exchange following an Arizona Daily Star story about the involvement with the payday-lending industry by Republican candidate Jonathan Paton and Democratic incumbent Gabrielle Giffords.

The next day, Republican candidate Jesse Kelly issued a news release asking Paton, a former legislator, to clarify his role as an employee for the payday-industry spokesman's public-relations and lobbying company in between legislative sessions. Kelly's release asks Paton to provide details of his compensation from the company, saying he was likely to be lobbied by the same company in the following legislative session.

One cannot be a registered lobbyist and a member of the legislature at the same time, for obvious conflict of interest reasons. Paton was not a registered lobbyist, but he worked on the PR side of a company that does lobby the legislature. I agree with Jesse Kelly, I am curious to know what kind of ethical firewall this company maintained regarding Paton during his tenure in the legislature, and what exactly was his role as an employee of the company.

"There is nothing the Pima GOP can do to shield Jonathan Paton from voters' concerns about his time on the payroll of a lobbying firm while still a member of the Arizona Legislature," Kelly said in the statement.

I do not recall seeing any follow-up reporting on Jesse Kelly's well-taken point. Where is the aggressive media reporting on this ethics issue? It goes to the issue of the character of Jonathan Paton. Present the evidence. The voters have a right to know before voting begins.

While we are waiting for the media to do its job, the Arizona Democratic Party has taken up Jesse Kelly's well-taken point regarding Jonathan Paton. Today's press release from Communications Director Jennifer Johnson:

Thanks to your hard work, payday lending will be a thing of the past in Arizona at midnight on Wednesday! But it almost wasn’t this way.  

Go to www.PaydayPaton.com to learn how lobbyist-legislator Jonathan Paton tried to bail out the payday lending industry. 

Did you know that CD8 Republican primary candidate Jonathan Paton was a paid lobbyist for the payday lending industry before he served in the state Legislature? As their spokesman, he even defended this predatory industry on the cover of the Tucson Citizen. [Source: Tucson Citizen, Jan. 22, 2004, page 1A]

In 2008, Paton actively championed the deceptive ballot initiative, Prop. 200, to bail out this predatory industry while Arizonans struggled with the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. Read his ballot argument supporting Prop. 200’s deceptive claims here: http://www.azsos.gov/election/2008/info/PubPamphlet/english/Prop200.htm. 

Paton also made thousands of dollars working for the payday lending lobbyists who ran the Prop. 200 campaign in 2008 — while Paton was serving in the state Legislature. That’s right, while Jonathan Paton was supposed to be representing Southern Arizonans, he was on the payroll of payday lending lobbyists! 

Today, the Arizona Democratic Party is launching www.PaydayPaton.com so Southern Arizonans can learn the truth: If lobbyist Jonathan Paton had his way, on Thursday the predatory lenders would still be able to charge nearly 400% interest and trap Arizona families in a spiral of debt, fees and financial ruin.  

Paton is trying to hide from these facts in his bid for Congress, but he can’t hide from his record. Visit www.PaydayPaton.com to get the real story about lobbyist Jonathan Paton’s past.

Jesse Kelly should keep demanding answers from Paton to his questions. This is a winning issue for him. Kelly has successfully branded Jonathan Paton as the establishment Republican insider, and himself as the fresh new face outsider in an anti-incumbent year for the Tea Party wing of the GOP in primaries. I believe that Kelly has won the straw poll following each of the debates among the CD 8 Republican candidates. The GOP primary is Paton's to lose, and he is doing a fine job of it so far.

UPDATE: Here is the Arizona Daily Star post about today's press release. Pueblo Politics: State Dems devote new website to targeting Jonathan Paton Note the lack of any reference to Jesse Kelly raising the same issue in the Arizona Daily Star.

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