The payday lenders have their story down. They tell their side about how a compromise concerning new regulations for the industry recently broke down in the Ohio House. They do so in a letter, dated May 15, from the Ohio Consumer Lenders Association to state Rep. Niraj J. Antani, obtained by cleveland.com. They blame Cliff Rosenberger, who stepped down as speaker last month. They contend he halted compromise efforts as part of carrying water for those payday lenders who oppose any changes in the law.

As it is, Rosenberger cannot exactly respond. He faces an FBI investigation into his travels and ties to lobbyists, including representatives of payday lenders. Agents raided his home and storage facility last week. Does that amount to corroboration for the Ohio Consumer Lenders Association? That is what the association’s lobbyists want everyone to think.

Not surprisingly, the situation isn’t so simple, and it is tied up in the messy struggle among House Republicans as they attempt to choose a new speaker. Consider that state Rep. Ryan Smith, the frontrunner for the speaker’s job, delivered a tough assessment of how payday lenders aren’t interested in a worthy compromise. He explained that a House committee recently advanced the original and strong bill because lawmakers concluded payday lenders were most committed to delay, or doing nothing.

That stance fits the payday lending profile. The industry has been defying Ohio voters for a decade. Voters overwhelmingly rejected the bid of payday lenders to overturn reforms enacted by lawmakers. The industry then ignored the will of voters. It took advantage of loopholes allowing for business as usual, charging usurious fees and interest, currently trapping many Ohioans in cycles of prolonged debt.

So payday lenders have a past, and not much credibility in the present when it comes to embracing more regulation and accountability.

On Wednesday, Ryan Smith unloaded on his leading opponent for the speaker position, citing, among other things, “bullying” and “downright extortion.” State Rep. Larry Householder isn’t seeking the post now. He has plans for the race after the November election, on the eve of the next legislative session. At the moment, he and his allies appear determined to stop Smith, practically no holds barred, or the reputation that has attached firmly to Householder since he served as speaker in the early 2000s.

Part of the Householder effort has been to link Smith to Rosenberger’s troubles, though no connection has surfaced beyond their working relationship. Smith is the chairman of the House Finance Committee. So the letter from the Ohio Consumer Lenders Association fits conveniently, suggesting Rosenberger and by association Smith are the real culprits in defeating a payday lending compromise on reform legislation.

This version of events deserves much skepticism, not the least because of the presence of Neil Clark, the longtime superlobbyist, now siding with payday lenders, his causes of late including the scandalous Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow and the failed money grab of the marijuana monopoly ballot measure.

What Ohio needs is a speaker, legislation now on hold, Ryan Smith with enough support if the caucus votes, not to mention a record of good judgment and good policymaking. Lawmakers also must get straight with voters on regulating payday lending. If the House requires a floor vote, the state Senate would do well if it quickly got to work on its own tough-minded version.