On April 17, 2020, CREW submitted a comment urging the Small Business Administration (SBA) to make recipient details of a coronavirus loan program publicly available, in light of reports of undue industry influence.
Within the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), Congress allocated $349 billion for financial relief for small businesses, including the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), a program with loans that can be forgiven if certain criteria are met, including using the funds for payroll. Notably absent from the program’s fine print was any requirement on publicly disclosing details of approved PPP loans.
The sheer size and rate of rapid implementation means there is a high risk for waste, fraud, and abuse. By April 16, SBA announced that it had already exhausted the PPP’s $349 billion budget, having approved over 1.3 million applications. This comes on the heels of troubling reports of hedge funds and trading firms opportunistically applying for PPP loans, as well as family members of top Trump Administration officials seeking funds. The public needs to know if special interests are sucking up hundreds of billions of dollars meant for mom and pop shops and other businesses most vulnerable to the coronavirus’s economic consequences. The SBA should proactively disclose loan-specific data, including the names of the borrowers and amount of the loan, as CREW urges in its comment.
CREW received a loan under the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program. The loan will help CREW continue fighting for a more just and ethical government, which is now more critical than ever. With American taxpayers footing the bill, transparency is crucial when it comes to where assistance related to the coronavirus pandemic is going.