GOP congressman attacks veterans group to hide his own bad record


Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY) is slamming a veterans group for an ad supporting his opponent Amy McGrath, a former Marine fighter pilot.

Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY) is attacking the nonpartisan veterans group With Honor after it began airing an ad slamming his support for a bill that would make service members vulnerable to predatory lenders.

Barr is calling the group, which supports both Republican and Democratic candidates, a "dark money" organization. He is demanding television stations stop airing the ads.

Barr’s characterization of the group is false. It is not a "dark money" group. The overwhelming majority of funding the group receives comes from individuals — not shadowy PACs and corporations — and it spends that money in support of former veterans running for congress regardless of political affiliation.

“With Honor is not a dark money group. We are registered [with] the FEC and disclose both our donors and spending. With Honor is a veterans organization that supports principled veterans on both sides who want to fix our broken politics,” the group said following Barr’s statement.

But Barr would rather attack the veterans behind this ad than have Kentucky voters focus on his own disgraceful ties to the exploitative payday lending industry that has given his campaigns tens of thousands of dollars.

The ad from With Honor cites Barr’s support for the Financial CHOICE Act, which would roll back parts of the Dodd-Frank Act and curb the power of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). The bill specifically limits the ability of the CFPB to enforce regulations related to payday loans.

Payday loans are short-term but high-interest loans targeted at individuals living paycheck to paycheck. In Kentucky, the average interest rate on a payday loan is over 400 percent.

Service members are especially vulnerable to these difficult-to-repay loans, according to Amy McGrath, the former Marine who is challenging Andy Barr for his seat in Kentucky’s 6th Congressional District.

“One of the the things I have to worry about with my young Marines is that they would get into financial trouble because they’re not paid much … when tragedy strikes and they have to fly home or something like that, they resort to these payday loan guys that charge them exorbitant amounts of interest,” McGrath said last year after Barr first voted in favor of deregulation.

Barr is insisting that his vote did nothing to harm service members because they are already protected under the Military Lending Act.

However, a spokesperson for With Honor says Barr’s vote still put veterans at risk by limiting the power of the CFPB to enforce that law.

"He doesn't actually have to be addressing the Military Lending Act to be opening our veterans up to predatory lending," said spokesperson Ellen Zeng.

It is not the first time in the race against Amy McGrath that Andy Barr has insulted America’s military.

In August, Barr tried to compare his time in Congress to McGrath’s time in combat as a fighter pilot in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“We both served our country,” Barr told The New York Times.

This latest episode, however, is proof that Andy Barr has really only served himself.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.