According to an Associated Press analysis of federal data, $ 273 million in federal coronovirus aid was provided to more than 100 companies owned or operated by major donors for President Donald Trump’s election efforts.
Many were the first to be approved for a loan in early April, when the administration was struggling to launch a lending program. According to a review of data released by the AP on Monday, only eight businesses had to wait until May before receiving assistance.
Trump-linked companies aided through the Paycheck Protection Program, which extends a lifeline for small businesses struggling to navigate the epidemic. Fast-food chains such as Muy Brands, oil and gas companies, and white-collar firms were given a slice of more than $ 659 billion in low-interest business loans to use the money on payroll, rent and similar expenses. Will be forgiven.
All told, Trump supporters running these companies have supported Trump’s campaign committees, the Republican National Committee and America First Action, a super PAC backed by Trump since May 2015, an AP review found that at least 11.1 million Has contributed dollars. Each donor gave at least $ 20,000.
There is no evidence that the companies received favorable treatment as a result of their relationship with Trump, and businesses only account for a fraction of the total spending under the program.
But after the Trump administration initially refused to explain which disbursement of the relief amount was increasing, which companies received loans, only because of increased bipartisan pressure from Congress. On Monday, the Treasury Department released the names of companies whose loans exceeded $ 150,000, although they did not release specific dollar figures and instead gave limits to the dollar value of aid.
Among Monday’s name recipients was the conservative website NewsMax, which was approved on April 13 for loans of up to $ 5 million, data show. NewsMax CEO Christopher Rudy has donated $ 525,000 to political committees supporting Trump, records show. He did not respond to a request for comment.
MU Brands, a San Antonio, Texas-based company that operates franchises of Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and Wendy, was approved for a loan of between $ 5 million and $ 10 million. Its owner, James Bodenstad, has donated $ 672,570 to Trump since 2016, records show. The company did not respond to a request for comment.
Irving, Texas-based M Crowd Restaurant Group, which owns 27 Texas restaurants, including the Mi Cocina chain, was approved for between $ 5 million and $ 10 million. Ray Washburn, one of the company’s founders, was vice president of the Trump Victory Committee in 2016 and donated $ 100,000 to PAC last August. The company did not respond to a request for comment.
“PPP was a huge success and saved 51 million American jobs, including Joe Biden’s old law firm and several companies associated with the Obama administration,” said Trump campaign spokesman Samantha Zagar. “When rent or mortgage was outstanding, tens of Americans gained thanks to President Trump’s leadership.”
Government watchdog groups say they have little faith in the administration that oversees the program, noting Trump has left many inspectors out of the ordinary and widely opposed efforts to add transparency.
“When you don’t have proper safeguards, such as timely disclosure and effective inspector generals, then all these things seem more questionable and raise more questions,” said Larry Noble, a former General Manager of the Federal Election Commission. “When you see these people getting help quickly and they have contributed to the campaign, that’s going to raise questions.”
Companies typically must have fewer than 500 employees to qualify for the paycheck protection program. The closing of the application deadline on June 30 was about $ 130 billion unclaimed.
With the money still available, Congress voted to extend the duration of the program, as it was setting a new date of 8 August.
The public may never know the identity of more than 80% of the nearly 5 million beneficiaries so far as the administration has refused to release details on loans under $ 150,000 – the vast majority of borrowers.
That secrecy led to open records being sued by a group of several news organizations including AP.
Nevertheless, the release of the data is by far the most complete look at the program’s recipients.
And Trump donors are not the only people for president who have benefited.
Joseph Kushner Hebrew Academy in New Jersey, named after Trump’s son-in-law and advisor Jared Kushner’s grandfather, was approved on April 5 for loans in the range of $ 1 million to $ 2 million. The school supports the family foundation of Jush Kushner’s parents, NBC News reports.
Casswitz Benson Torres, the law firm founded by Trump’s longtime private lawyer Mark Kasowitz, was approved for loans between $ 5 million and $ 10 million.
The Foremost Maritime Company, the family business of Transportation Secretary Ellen Chao, was approved for a loan valued between $ 350,000 and $ 1 million. She is married to Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, R-Q.
Broadcasting company Patrick Broadcasting, a Texas lieutenant government, Dan Patrick, a firebrand conservative and former talk radio host, has a debt of $ 179,000, according to Patrick’s senior adviser Sherry Sylvester. Patrick is the president of Trump’s presidential campaign in Texas.
The money was used to cover the payroll and expenses of 13 employees.
“The loan did not cover his salary, but he was able to save the jobs of all his employees, many of whom have been with him for decades,” said Sylvester.
Kastanis reported from Los Angeles. Associated Press writer D-Ann Durbin in Ann Arbor, Michigan contributed to this report.
Report by hindustantimes.com