July 7, 2020
Businesses linked to members of Congress received millions in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, according to CREW’s analysis of new data released by the Small Business Administration. Many of the lawmakers who benefited from PPP loans opposed legislation to make the program more transparent.
Among the PPP beneficiaries was Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL), one of the top ten wealthiest members of Congress as of 2018. His car dealerships in Florida and North Carolina–Sarasota 500 and Nissan of Elizabeth City–received between $2 and 6 million in PPP loans. Buchanan has reported interests in the Florida and North Carolina dealerships, which he valued at exceeding $50 million and between $1 and $5 million, respectively.
Another one of Congress’s wealthiest members, Rep. Roger Williams (R-TX), benefitted from a PPP loan valued between $1 and 2 million for his car dealership in Texas. Williams is the Sole Director and President of the company that received the loan, JRW Corporation, which is valued at $50 million, according to his latest financial disclosure. Williams previously acknowledged receiving a PPP loan, but declined to specify the amount.
Caregivers Inc., a Pensacola-based company in which Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) has reported holding between $100,001 and $250,000 in corporate stock, received a PPP loan valued between $350,000 and $1 million.
Custom Foods of America, a Tennessee-based company in which Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) has reported interests valued between approximately $4 million and $15 million, received a PPP loan valued between $2 and $5 million.
Businesses linked to Reps. Rick Allen (R-GA), Vicky Hartzler (R-MO), Kevin Hern (R-OK), Mike Kelly (R-PA), Susie Lee (D-NV), Nita Lowey (D-NY), Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D-FL), and Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) were also awarded PPP loans, reports USA Today.
Reps. Allen, Hartzler, Hern, Kelly, Mullin, and Williams all voted against legislation that would have required public disclosure of PPP loan recipients. Gaetz, Lee, Lowey, and Mucarsel-Powell voted for the bill, while Buchanan cast no vote. The legislation, which would have required SBA to disclose the decision-making process behind PPP loan disbursements and the number of employees at each firm that received aid, failed in the House and did not reach the Senate.
Following the Trump Administration’s repeated efforts to block transparency over PPP loans, CREW has submitted Freedom of Information Act requests seeking extensive data on the program, including details on loans awarded to businesses with congressional ties. CREW’s investigation remains ongoing.
Disclosure: On May 4, 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.