Billing himself as one of President Trump’s top fundraisers, Michael Hodges told fellow payday lenders recently that industry contributions to the president’s reelection campaign could be leveraged to gain access to the Trump administration.
“Every dollar amount, no matter how small or large it is” is important, Hodges, founder of Advance Financial, one of the country’s largest payday lenders, said during a 48-minute webcast, obtained by The Washington Post.
“For example, I’ve gone to Ronna McDaniel and said, ‘Ronna, I need help on something,’ ” Hodges said, referring to the chair of the Republican National Committee. “She’s been able to call over to the White House and say, ‘Hey, we have one of our large givers. They need an audience. … They need to be heard and you need to listen to them.’ So that’s why it’s important.”…
“If you need something and we may need something … then it would be good to be able to pick up the phone and call someone that could get the president’s attention,” Wood said during the webinar. Contributing to Trump’s campaign will help keep the president in office, he said, and “it will give [Hodges] access in the event that we need to have access to the president.”
In an interview, Wood acknowledged posting the YouTube video but then referred questions about fundraising to others who took part. The video, which had about 40 views as of Friday afternoon, was removed shortly after The Post asked Wood about it.
The major focus of the call appeared to be fundraising, which the industry insiders said would be critical to maintaining access to the Trump administration. Hodges encouraged others to donate to Trump’s campaign and referred to his efforts to bolster his standing with the administration.
Justice Kennedy infamously wrote in Citizens United: “Ingratiation and access, in any event, are not corruption.”