Corona Corruption, Part 3

Billionaires took handouts as Mom-and-Pop stores went broke

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We always knew that Trump’s March promise that he would personally “be the oversight” in how $2 trillion in pandemic stimulus money got spent would lead to unprecedented corruption. Trump more or less confessed to that when, in April, he fired the independent government watchdog charged with overseeing how the money was spent.

Now we are learning even more about the extent of the thievery and abuse of a program that was supposedly intended to help small businesses. (For previous installments of my series on “Corona Corruption” click here and here.)

“A program that helped the well connected”

As Kyle Herrig, president of Accountable.US, a government watchdog group, told NBC News: “PPP was sold to the American people as a program to help Mom-and-Pop shops keep their lights on during the pandemic. The reality is that the Trump administration created a program that helped the well connected cut to the front of the line to get these loans.”

NBC News reports that among those who received loans were:

  • Billionaire property developer Joe Farrell, a prominent Republican fundraiser, received up to $1 million

  • Kanye West's $3 billion clothing and sneaker company

  • Multimillionaire pop artist Jeff Koons

  • The Church of Scientology

CNBC highlights some other notable recipients, including the corrupt multimillionaire wife of “Moscow Mitch” McConnell who also happens to be a corrupt member of corrupt Donald Trump’s corrupt cabinet:

  • Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao’s family’s business, Foremost Maritime, got a loan valued at between $350,000 and $1 million.

  • Perdue Inc., a trucking company co-founded by Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, was approved for $150,000 to $350,000 in loan money. 

  • The Ayn Rand Institute, named for the objectivist writer cited as an influence on libertarian thought, was approved for $350,000 to $1 million.

  • Joseph Kushner Hebrew Academy in New Jersey, which is named after Trump’s son-in-law and advisor Jared Kushner’s grandfather, got a loan in the range of $1 million to $2 million.

And NPR reports that more than 10,000 religious institutions received loans:

Among those borrowing at least $5 million were Roman Catholic dioceses in California, New York, Nevada, Tennessee and Kentucky. Illinois-based megachurch Willow Creek also borrowed at least $5 million.

As the new ad from Meidas Touch (posted above) highlights, others who gorged at the PPP trough while actual “Mom and Pop” businesses got shut out were:

  • Conservative anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist

  • The Tucker Carlson-founded right-wing news site The Daily Caller

  • A winery owned by Republican Congressman Devin Nunes

The stated goals of the PPP stimulus programs was “to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll.” But the more we hear about the program and how Trump and his team administered it, the more we realize how flawed the program was—and how abused it was by people who took funds they didn’t need, even as up to a quarter of all small businesses face the prospect of permanent closure due to COVID-19.

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