On Monday, the Trump administration in conjunction with the Treasury Department and the SBA, released the names of more 650,000 businesses that received loans of more than $150,000 through the Paycheck Protection Program. In total, the program supported more than 51 million jobs, and distributed $521 billion in loans, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Monday.
The Paycheck Protection Program, launched in April as part of the $2.2 trillion CARES Act, was intended to help keep small businesses afloat amid the pandemic. Businesses that are approved for the loans by the recently extended Aug. 8 deadline are able to have a portion of the loan forgiven if they adhere to the Small Business Administration’s guidelines, the body that oversees the PPP,
Members of Congress as well as Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao’s family-owned business, Foremost Maritime, an international shipping company headquartered in New York, received between $350,000 and $1 million through the PPP, the new figures show.
Members of Congress and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao’s family-owned business, Foremost Maritime, an international shipping company, received between $350,000 and $1 million through the PPP.
A spokesman for the company declined to comment on Sec. Chao’s involvement at the company and the extent to which she may have assisted them with receiving a PPP loan. Separately a spokesman for the Department of Transportation told MarketWatch that “the Secretary has no connection to the business and she had no idea a loan was obtained.”
A spokesman for Chao’s husband, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, told MarketWatch that he had “no knowledge” of her family business receiving the loan.
Lawmakers and other federal officials normally would have to undergo an ethical review by the SBA’s Standards of Conduct Committee if they were to apply for funds from the SBA. However, on April 13, the Trump administration issued a “blanket approval” ruling allowing lawmakers and other federal officials to sidestep the review process meant to detect any potential conflicts of interest, the Washington Post reported.
That may have also allowed at least four Republican members of Congress to directly benefits from the program.
That includes Oklahoma Rep. Kevin Hern, who owns KTAK Corporation, Tulsa, Okla.-based business that owns five McDonald’s franchises
KTAK received a PPP loan between $1 million and $2 million, according to data released Monday.
Hern is “not involved in the day to day operations of the business,” his chief of staff, Cameron Foster, told MarketWatch. Because of the PPP, “the family business was able to keep all employees either at their current level of employment or move part-time employees to full time,” he added.
Hern along with four other members of Congress penned a letter to McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer in March, which advocated for increasing the size of PPP loans available for franchises. Foster declined to comment on the extent to which Kern was involved in helping KTAK obtain a loan.
‘This program has helped employees keep food on the table, pay their rent, and meet their car payments. The program protects paychecks across the state, including employees at the small business owned by my husband and me.’
Pennsylvania Rep. Mike Kelly, also a Republican, received three loans for three car dealerships he owns amounting to a total of between $450,000 to $1.05 million.
(Kelly did not respond to MarketWatch’s request for a comment.)
Four businesses owned by Oklahoma Rep. Markwayne Mullin, a Republican, collectively received loans between $800,000 to $2.05 million. They were listed as Mullin Plumbing, Inc; Mullin Environmental; Mullin Plumbing West; and Mullin Services.
“Mullin is not involved in the day-to-day operations of the companies,” Meredith Blanford, a spokeswoman for Mullin told MarketWatch.
Ahead of the SBA’s public release of PPP beneficiaries, Missouri’s Rep. Vicky Hartzler, a Republican, disclosed that her family’s businesses received around $480,000 in PPP loans.
“This program has helped employees keep food on the table, pay their rent, and meet their car payments,” Hartlzer said in a statement to MarketWatch. “The program protects paychecks across the state, including employees at the small business owned by my husband and me.”
She said that she applied through her local bank “following ethics guidelines” but did not share information regarding those guidelines.
Separately, S.W. Collins, a lumber and raw material supplier with five locations in Maine, is owned and operated by brothers of Maine Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican.
S.W. Collins received $1 million to $2 million from the PPP, data shows. However Sen. Collins’ spokesman, Christopher Knight, told MarketWatch that the company returned the loan. He also shared that Collins has no financial stake in the company.