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Payday-loan allied group ponies up another $250,000

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 6, 2012 - Allies of the payday loan industry are beefing up, moneywise, as they continue to prepare for a possible battle at the ballot box against those who seek to limit how much interest can be charged on such loans.

On Thursday, Missourians for Responsible Government -- a fiscally conservative, free market group founded by activist Patrick Tuohey -- contributed $250,000 to Missourians for Equal Credit Opportunity, the chief campaign group set up by the payday industry to fight the possible ballot initiative.

The hefty contribution will not be included on the soon-to-be-filed reports, due January 15, which cover the last three months of 2011.

The last campaign report, filed Oct. 15, showed Missourians for Equal Credit Opportunity to have $246,633 in the bank. The only contribution listed was an earlier $250,000 from Missourians for Responsible Government -- which as a non-profit does not have to report its donors.

All told, Missourians for Responsible Government has given $850,000 to the Equal Credit campaign group.

The upshot: the real contributors to the opposition campaign remain largely unknown.

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.