This piece was originally published in the July 9, 2020 edition of CAP Action’s daily newsletter, the Progress Report. Subscribe to the Progress Report here.
Up to this amount in PPP funding went to more than 100 companies with ties to major Trump donors, according to an AP analysis of SBA data.
Arizona. Florida. South Carolina. Bahrain. Louisiana.
4 of the 5 worst coronavirus epicenters in the world — where numbers of new cases per day are alarmingly high — are U.S. STATES.
BREAKING OPEN THE (PPP)IGGY BANK
On Monday, the Treasury Department finally released data on who’s been receiving federal funds via the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), a loan program passed by Congress to help small businesses ride out the economic devastation of the coronavirus outbreak. Since the program’s inception, countless small business owners have reported difficulties in trying to obtain PPP funding to keep their businesses afloat. But report after report suggested that the program made funds easily available for the rich and connected.
The Treasury Department repeatedly refused to release information about who received the loans, adding another layer of suspicion as to who the money may have gone to and why. But now, after months of sustained pressure from the public and Congress, we have that information. And it’s even worse than we imagined.
At least 100 major Trump donors received PPP funds, along with multiple billionaires, Kanye West’s company, conservative anti-tax organizations, SPLC-classified hate groups, and right-wing media outlets with long records of supporting Trump.
Here are some of the worst examples:
- G.H. Palmer, Inc. received between $350,000 and $1 million from the PPP. The company’s owner, Geoffrey Palmer, has donated $775,000 to the Trump Victory fund and an additional $8 million to the pro-Trump Super PAC America First Action.
- Phase 2 Cellars, a California winery, received a loan worth between $1 million and $2 million. The company is partially owned by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), who became famous in 2017 and 2018 for his efforts to help Trump undermine the Russia investigation as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.
- The Daily Caller received between $500,000 and $1.3 million from the PPP. The right-wing company’s founder, Tucker Carlson, is one of Trump’s top Fox News confidantes, and has decried anti-coronavirus business closures as “fascism.” (Carlson left the company in June; however, SBA data reveals the company applied for the loans in April, before Carlson stepped down.)
- Three companies owned by or affiliated with the Kushner family — Observer Holdings LLC, Princeton Forrestal LLC, and Esplanade Livingston LLC — received between $1.15 million and $3 million in PPP loans. Kushner Companies has acknowledged receiving the loans, but has asserted that they complied with application guidelines and that a majority of funds went to furloughed employees.
- The shipping company Foremost Group received between $350,000 and $1 million in PPP loans. The company is part of the shipping empire owned by the family of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, who is also married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
- The Federation for American Immigration Reform and the Center for Immigration Studies each received between $350,000 and $1 million from the PPP. Both groups have supported Trump’s anti-immigration agenda and are classified as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
- The San Antonio-based digital firm CloudCommerce received $786,860 from the PPP. According to an April SEC filing, the company’s largest shareholder is Brad Parscale, who also happens to be running Trump’s 2020 presidential campaign.
As Trump insiders and big banks cashed in, vulnerable small businesses in need of support struggled to obtain loans. At least 140,000 businesses have closed amidst the financial strain of the pandemic, many of which are shuttered for good. This took a disproportionate toll on minority-owned businesses, who were supposed to be prioritized by the program. Nearly 90% of Black and Latinx small business owners who applied for PPP loans were rejected, and a study estimates that 40% of all Black-owned businesses will permanently close as a result of the pandemic.
Meanwhile, the banks who doled out PPP aid for the Trump administration have made up to $24.6 billion in fees, more than all the businesses in each of 46 states have received from the program thus far.
Who did and did not receive funding from the Paycheck Protection Program shows us just how much stronger the swamp has grown under Trump — and raises further questions about what the administration is doing with the secret slush fund controlled entirely by Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin.
- This morning, the Supreme Court ruled 7–2 that New York state prosecutors have the power to subpoena Trump’s financial and tax records. In a separate 7–2 ruling, the court left open the possibility that Congress could subpoena Trump’s financial records. While the public may not see these records in the next few months, it is important that the Supreme Court recognized a fundamental principle: No one is above the law — including the president. Read CAP’s statement on the rulings here.
- The Court also issued a ruling that classifies the eastern half of Oklahoma as Native American land in a victory for Indigenous activists. The decision upheld a century-old treaty in which the land — nearly 3 million acres — was promised to the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. “Tribes are the ones in Eastern Oklahoma that are keeping hospitals open, paving roads, providing free COVID testing, are the largest employers,” said Cherokee writer and advocate Rebecca Nagle in response to today’s decision. You can learn more about this fascinating case, which stemmed from a man challenging his own criminal conviction, in Nagle’s podcast, This Land.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
- At least four transgender people have been murdered in the past week, including at least three Black trans women. According to the Human Rights Campaign, this brings the total number of trans people murdered in just the first half of 2020 to 21, nearly matching the 27 people murdered in all of 2019. Support the Transgender Law Center’s work to keep trans and gender nonconforming people alive, thriving, and fighting for liberation here.
- U.S. Senator Kelly Loeffler, best known for her suspected insider trading on coronavirus-related stocks, made it crystal clear this week how much she opposes the Black Lives Matter movement. After the WNBA announced plans to show solidarity by donning warm-up jerseys that read “Say Her Name” and “Black Lives Matter,” Loeffler, a co-owner of the Atlanta Dream, wrote to the WNBA Commissioner urging her to scrap the plan and instead put American flags on all team apparel. Loeffler, who recently referred to constituents protesting the murder of Rayshard Brooks as “mob rule,” has previously faced criticism for retaining her shares in Atlanta’s WNBA team while in office.
WHAT WE’RE READING
- Dangerous Gaps in Gun Laws Exposed by the Coronavirus Gun Sale Surge by Chelsea Parsons and Rukmani Bhatia (CAP)
- How Gerrymandering Is Making the Coronavirus Crisis Worse by Ady Barkan and Sam Berger (Newsweek)
- Fighting Systemic Racism in K-12 Education: Helping Allies Move From the Keyboard to the School Board by Roby Chatterji (CAP)
- Check out InStyle’s ‘Badass 50’ piece, where they profile fifty women working in health care on the front lines of the pandemic.
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