Who all got PPP loans? Slamming Kanye and Kushner family, Angry Internet says ‘lock up Trump and all cronies’
The Trump administration has revealed the names of more than 650,000 companies that received loans under the government's small business lending program, intended to support them through the repercussions of the economic downfall on Monday, July 6. The disclosure came amid calls from Democrats for more transparency surrounding the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which are funds established under the $2 trillion CARES Act. President Donald Trump signed PPP into law at the end of March. After being slammed by Democrats for implying that the Trump administration would not disclose the names of the borrowers, the Treasury and the Small Business Administration later upended their decision and said they would disclose names and details of the businesses that took PPP loans of above $150,000 and above.
The PPP was introduced to offer forgivable loss to the smaller business through banks working with the SBA, who were struggling to stay afloat and earn a living due to the pandemic recession. However, large and public companies took full advantage of the program to tap into the funds for themselves. The Treasury Department disclosed only a fraction of the total loanees and named only those companies that got over $150,000 with relatively low-interest rates. Those companies made up less than 15 percent out of some five million small businesses that received loans. In a broad summary of the program, the Treasury Department notes that the average amount for the entire program was an estimated $107,000.
When the program was introduced, the foremost concern for many was that the president's friends and allies would benefit from it greatly. However, the data released by the federal agency shows that not only did his acquaintances reap the benefits of PPP, but so did some of the well-off and well-connected circles in Washington. An Associated Press review of the data found that approximately 600 portfolio management companies and private equity firms also borrowed from the program, despite not being heavily impacted by the economic recession. Their employees mostly able to continue working and they weren't part of the industries that had to be shut down under state or local government orders.
Records show that Rosenblatt Securities, one of the biggest names in the New York Stock Exchange reportedly borrowed a $1-$2 million loan. San Antonio-based franchise Muy Brands Inc, which owns more than 750 Wendy's, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut restaurants received between $15 million and $30 million through the PPP. James Bodenstedt, the CEO of Muy Brands Inc, is also a major donor to President Trump. Joe Farrell, the billionaire developer in New York's exclusive Hamptons beachfront and Republican fundraiser, received up to $1 million in loans from the taxpayer coronavirus relief fund. Farrell has thrown fundraising parties for President Trump. The Ayn Rand Institute, named after the conservative philosopher Ayn Rand, received a loan between $350,000 and $1 million, which it describes as “partial restitution for government-inflicted losses."
Music producer and rapper, Kanye West's $3 million (according to Bloomberg) apparel and sneaker business Yeezy LLC took a loan of $2 million to $5 million and helped support 106 jobs. The fine art studio owned by multimillionaire pop artist Jeff Koons received up to $2 million in PPP loans and supported 53 jobs. Koons is well known for sculpting metal balloon animals and reeling in millions of dollars at auctions for them. The Church of Scientology, founded by L Ron Hubbard, had several entities accessing the PPP loans, the federal data suggests. The Church of Scientology, New York, the mission of Belleair in Largo, Florida, and the founding Church of Scientology of Washington all took loans up to $350,000 each, supporting a total of 137 jobs.
In addition, some political names also received money from the taxpayer coronavirus relief fund. Six of West Virginia Governor Jim Justice's family companies received at least $6.3 million, despite him being the richest man in West Virginia and owning dozens of coal and agricultural business (they have been previously sued for unpaid debts). Ohio Governor Mike DeWine's company, Seeds-Silver Dollar Baseball also received a loan under the PPP ranging between $150,000 and $350,000. New Hampshire Governor, Chris Sununu's family led investment group, Waterville Valley Holdings got a loan between $350,000 and $1 million. Wisconsin Assembly Speaker, Robin Vos' popcorn manufacturing company Robin J Vos Enterprises received between $150,000 and $350,000, according to federal data.
Records also show that Observer Holdings LLC, the parent company of Observer Media, the publishing company formerly owned by Jared Kushner, the White House Senior Advisor received $350,000 to $1 million. Although Kushner resigned from the news organization in 2017, the company has remained in the family. According to the SBA, the loan preserved 41 jobs. Two of the Kushner family's hotel businesses, Princeton Forrestal LLC and Esplanade Livingston LLC also took advantage of PPP. They were each granted loans ranging from $1 million to $2millon and $350,000 to $1 million, respectively. Kushner companies immediately acknowledged the PPP and released a statement in justification. “Several of our hotels have applied for federal loans, in accordance with all guidelines, with a vast majority of funds going to furloughed employees,” said COO, Peter Febo. Joseph Kushner Hebrew Academy, New Jersey also got a loan between $1 million and $2 billion.
The big business became the subject of backlash with the Treasury Departments' disclosure. Twitter users took to the platform to slam the private equity firms for profiting off the relief fund for small businesses. "So Kanye and Jared Kushner's family got PPP loans. No wonder the Trump White House wanted to keep all this secret. That program may go down as one of the most corrupt and wasteful in American history," a user commented. "Who is surprised that all of Trump's cronies and loyalists got PPP loans? This is how a mafia state works. The small group of loyalists and inner circle get rewarded. Everyone else suffers," said another. "#Corruption pure and simple. #kushner #DumpTrump", added a third user. "Lock up trump and all his cronies. Call in the PPP loans to all of trump’s friends. #DrainTheSwamp," wrote an angry user.
"Keep in mind these are the same people who are willing to kill off over 130K Americans saying we need to ride this out. They've dropped over 4 million from healthcare & are willing to let the entire middle class become homeless saying unemployment is a handout! #Kushner & #GOP," another user concurred. "Kushner should face corruption charges", said one user in a tweet, while another added, "#MAGA? No. Make Trump Family Great, Make Kanye West Great? Yes... at our taxpayer expense. WRONG! #VoteBlueToSaveAmerica". Some users addressed the Ayn Rand Institute, who went against its patron's philosophy and borrowed from the federal fund. "The irony of the Ayn Rand Institute being bailed out by taxpayers cannot be understated," a user wrote in a tweet. "The Ayn Rand Institute receiving a PPP loan is not weird when you realize Ayn Rand was a selfish a**hole who never lived by the rules she demanded others follow," another tweeted. "Huh. It's almost as if the only values animating Ayn Rand's philosophy are selfishness and personal greed."