Accountability Funding

More than Half the Funds in CARES PPP Went to 5% of Recipients

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The Treasury Department administered the CARES Act’s Paycheck Protection Program, which was supposed to hand out more than $600 billion to small businesses. Stephen Mnuchin kept much of the information secret but had to release the full list of recipients in response to media Freedom of Information Act suits. We know that charter schools, private schools, and religious schools collected huge sums, slipping in as “nonprofits.”

Here is an account from the Boston Globe:

WASHINGTON – More than half of the money from the Treasury Department’s coronavirus emergency fund for small businesses went to just 5 percent of the recipients, according to data on more than 5 million loans released by the government Tuesday evening in response to a Freedom of Information Act request and lawsuit.

According to data on the government’s Paycheck Protection Program, about 600 mostly larger companies, including dozens of national chains, received the maximum amount allowed under the program of $10 million.

Officials from the Treasury Department and the Small Business Administration have argued that the program primarily benefited smaller business because a vast majority of the loans ― more than 87 percent ― were for less than $150,000, as of August. But the new data show that more than half of the $522 billion in the same time frame had gone to bigger businesses, and only 28 percent of the money was distributed in amounts of under $150,000.

The newly released data comes after a federal lawsuit filed by The Washington Post and 10 other news organizations under the Freedom of Information Act challenging the SBA’s refusal to release records on borrowers and loan amounts. A federal judge ordered release of the data by Tuesday and the agency did not appeal.

Devised as a way to temporarily pay small companies to keep their employees on staff for eight weeks, PPP is widely credited with helping millions of businesses make payroll during the early months of the pandemic, benefiting tens of millions of employees. A bipartisan group of senators unveiled plans Tuesday for another $908 billion in stimulus, including nearly $300 billion in new funding for PPP and other SBA programs...

The data released Tuesday disclosed for the first time the exact dollar figures received by some of the top recipients, showing that a number of restaurant chains received the maximum $10 million, among them the parent companies of Uno Pizzeria & Grill, Legal Seafoods, Boston Market and Cava Mezze Grill. Law firms, churches and professional staffing services were also among recipients of $10 million loans…

Many companies were reported to have “retained” far more workers than they employ. Likewise, in some cases the agency’s jobs claim for entire industries surpassed the total number of workers in those sectors. For more than 875,000 borrowers, the data showed that zero jobs were supported or no information is listed at all, according to the analysis.

Religious organizations received billions in PPP aid. One of the largest grants went to Joyce Meyer’s Ministry in Fenton, Missouri, which received between $7-10 million.

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