It took months of litigation and a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, but now we know that companies owned by Donald Trump and Jared Kushner were major beneficiaries of millions of dollars of loans, some of which do not need to be repaid, through federal programs intended to prop up small businesses during the coronavirus pandemic.
Congress allocated $717 billion in forgivable loans to be made available through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Emergency Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program, both of which are run by the Small Business Administration (SBA). The intent of the programs was to help with payroll for small businesses struggling under the effects of coronavirus lockdown measures.
Even though the loan applications specifically state that information about companies borrowing under the programs would be available to the public, the Trump administration and SBA refused to disclose the data. It took a lawsuit by 11 news organizations and a federal judge’s order to pry the details into the light of day.
An initial analysis by NBC News of the data, which was released late Tuesday night, shows that more than 25 PPP loans totaling more than $3.6 million were given to businesses with addresses at Trump and Kushner real estate properties – businesses that all pay rent to those owners. Fifteen of the properties reported that the loans enabled them to preserve only one job or zero jobs.
One loan, for $2,164,543, went to Triomphe Restaurant Corp., which is located in Trump International Hotel & Tower in New York City. The company didn’t report keeping any jobs after receiving the money and later permanently closed. A company called LB City Inc., which is located in a New Jersey shore hotel owned by Kushner, secured a loan of more than $500,000. Two tenants in Trump Tower took in more than $100,000 in federally guaranteed loans and reported they preserved three jobs.
While the president and his wealthy son-in-law were profiting from the taxpayer funded loans, owners of actual small businesses encountered major problems in securing PPP loans – if they could get them at all. The SBA was roundly criticized for bungling the implementation of the program.
Kyle Herrig, president of Accountable.US, an accountability watchdog organization, said in a statement: “Many months and broken promises later, the court-ordered release of this crucial data while the Trump administration is one foot out the door is a shameful dereliction of duty and flagrant mismanagement of a program that millions of workers and small businesses needed to get through this pandemic.”