The Treasury Department and Small Business Administration (SBA) released information on Monday listing recipients of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) intended to provide relief to enterprises impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
With that release was the revelation that some businesses affiliated with federal lawmakers received PPP loans, perhaps most notable among them a company owned in part by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) husband Paul Pelosi, Breitbart reported.
As of the end of June, the PPP had distributed at least $521 billion in loans to almost 5 million companies and organizations, though the information released this week pertained only to less than 15% of that total, including just those who received a loan in excess of $150,000.
Pelosi-linked firm receives loan
Bloomberg was the first to report on the Pelosi connection to PPP funds when it revealed that a limited partnership investment firm known as EDI Associates, of which Paul Pelosi is an investor, had received a loan in an amount between $350,000 and $1 million.
According to Nancy Pelosi’s spokesman, Drew Hammill, the Speaker’s husband is “a minor, passive investor” in the firm who “was not involved in or even aware of this PPP loan.” Hammill further revealed that Paul Pelosi’s ownership stake in the firm was approximately 8.1%, Bloomberg reported.
Ironically, Speaker Pelosi herself may have played a role in outing her husband as a recipient of a PPP loan, “passive” and unknowing though he may have been, by raising a stink in June about a lack of transparency by the SBA and Treasury regarding who was receiving the taxpayer-funded loan.
“The Trump administration’s concealment of PPP loan data was a disturbing sign of its complete indifference to ensuring that Paycheck Protection Program funds go first and foremost to the most vulnerable small businesses on Main Street,” the speaker said in a statement on June 20.
“Its reversal is an overdue step toward securing the transparency needed to ensure struggling small businesses, particularly minority, women and veteran-owned businesses, are getting the vital assistance they need to survive and retain their workers,” she added at the time.
Questionable recipients abound
Bloomberg further noted that four other members of the House — two Democrats and two Republicans — also had familial ties to companies that received PPP loans.
Perhaps even more alarming was the revelation that both the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation and Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute had applied for and received PPP loans between $350,000 and $1 million, as did the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation.
There had been talk initially of prohibiting members of Congress and their families from receiving any taxpayer-funded loans, but such a provision was not included in the final legislation authorizing the program. On top of that, the SBA put in place a dubious rule that allowed members of Congress to bypass the typical review process for conflicts of interest with regard to the PPP, according to Bloomberg.
To be sure, it appears that all of these eyebrow-raising loans were indeed allowed within the law as written, and the employees whose jobs were saved by them are undoubtedly grateful. That, however, doesn’t necessarily help the situation pass the smell test as far as most Americans are concerned.