A review of data released by the Small Business Administration (SBA) shows that real estate owned by the Trump Organization and Kushner Companies has received over $3.65 million in loans from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) – raising questions about the fairness and distribution of loans to help small businesses during the pandemic.
The SBA released a record of every small business that received a PPP or EIDL (Economic Injury Disaster) loan on Tuesday after months of litigation, including lawsuits from 11 news organizations.
An initial review of the data by NBC News revealed that a number of companies with ties to President Donald Trump’s family and the family of Jared Kushner – Trump’s son-in-law and senior consultant – were the primary beneficiaries of the program.
PPP loans were originally designed to support small businesses and provide them with access to funds that could help with payroll, rent, utilities and mortgage interest payments. The forgivable loans, worth over $700 billion, were approved by Congress and the Trump administration under the CARES Act and introduced in the spring.
However, SBA data shows that companies tied to the President received millions of dollars in aid, and many reported that the money was not used to save jobs.
According to NBC News, more than 25 PPP loans were made to Trump and Kushner Real Estate, with rent being paid to these owners. Of these, only fifteen properties themselves said that the money was used to save one job or none at all.
One of these loans included a $2,164,543 loan to Triomphe Restaurant Corp. at the Trump International Hotel & Tower in New York City. The company reported that the loan was not intended to save jobs, and later it was closed down completely.
A Kushner property in New Jersey called LB City Inc. received a loan of $505,552.50 that saved 155 jobs, while four tenants of a Kushner-owned property in New York City received a combined total of more than $204,000 and only kept six jobs.
In addition, two tenants in Trump Tower received more than $100,000 and retained only three jobs.
These figures add to a host of criticisms from government regulators and small business owners who feel that the loans were not distributed fairly and equitably.
“Many months and broken promises later, the court-ordered release of these crucial data while the Trump administration has one foot out the door is a shameful dereliction of duty and blatant mismanagement of a program that took millions of workers and small businesses to survive this pandemic,” said Kyle Herrig, president of the government watchdog group Accountable.US, according to NBC News.
Christopher W. Smith, General Counsel of Kushner Companies, responded by saying that the claim that Kushner Properties had improperly benefited from the loans “is completely untrue and is nothing more than politically motivated nonsense.
“Exactly two of the Kushner Companies’ hotel operations received PPP loans. Every provision of the PPP program was fully complied with in relation to each of the two loans – and every penny of the funds received from the program was used to finance employee wages and benefits to maintain jobs threatened by the COVID pandemic and the associated lockdown measures,” Smith told Washington Newsday in a statement.
The SBA’s data also indicates that more than half of the planned PPP funds went to just 5 percent of recipients, with larger companies benefiting more than their mid-market counterparts.
Watchdogs also warned that several billion dollars could have gone to fraudsters and ineligible companies, while small businesses owned by people without strong banking connections had limited access to the funds.
Accountable groups have now set up publicly searchable databases like SearchPPP.com so that people can see for themselves how the loans were used.
But the SBA defended its handling of pandemic aid on Tuesday.
“The SBA’s historically successful COVID aid loan programs have helped millions of small businesses and tens of millions of American workers when they needed it most,” a SBA spokesman said in a statement.
Washington Newsday tried to ask the Trump Government and the Trump Organization for additional comments, but did not return in time for publication.