Corporate Theft of COVID $$

By Lee Siu Hin
August 3, 2020

Lee Siu Hin

The Small Business Administration (SBA)’s COVID-19 PPP Loan program never approved the funds for many small businesses with some small businesses reportedly receiving an insulting $1 loan while the Kushner Family, Wall Street investors, and Trump’s pals and political connections from both parties raked in millions!

According to the SBA PPP program data made available to the public, some investment firms, including those that run hedge funds or manage money for wealthy investors, were among the businesses approved for emergency U.S. government loans. Nearly 5,000 businesses received individual loans between $5 million and $10 million, according to the data.

The program, meant to protect small “Mom-and- Pop” businesses, also doled out money to billionaire-backed corporations, chain restaurants, the members-only clubs, celebrity fashion brands, Girl Scouts, Catholic arcahdioceses, crazy art projects, right-wingers against PPP loans, and the businesses of people close to President Donald Trump and the Democrats. PPP in actually turned out to be a payout for the rich and connected with only tip money for a small business.

For example, in South Pasadena, CA, according to the local media South Pasadenan (The SBA data didn’t disclose the exact amount, just the range):

  • The largest recipient of PPP funds in South Pasadena was Total Education Solutions (TES) Inc., which received between $7 million and $15 million and reported the retention of 835 jobs or an average between $8,383 to $17,964 per job. But aside from those at their headquarters, these firms have no employees in South Pasadena.
  • Collins, Collins, Muir, and Stewart LLP, a law firm that employs 60 attorneys at five offices throughout the state, received between $2 million and $5 million, or about $33,333 to $83,333 per job.
  • A total of just under $18 million went to the 580 businesses in South Pasadena, or under $150,000 per business. This works out to an average PPP payment of just under $31,000 per business. A female-owned catering corporation reported 52 retained positions. It received $102,535, or $1,972 per job.

Based on the open data from the SBA, here are just some of the big PPP loans given to the greediest, according to the multiple media report (PPP funds in range, unless amounts specified):

  • Trump-connected loans: The Trump Organization did not apply for PPP loans, but many tenants at buildings owned or managed by Trump reportedly received funds. An Associated Press analysis found that as much as $273 million in PPP aid went to more than 100 companies that are owned or operated by major Trump donors.
  • Irving, Texas-based M Crowd Restaurant Group, which owns 27 Texas restaurants including the Mi Cocina chain, was approved for between $5 million and $10 million. Ray Washburne, one of the company’s founders, was vice chairman of the Trump Victory Committee in 2016 and donated $100,000 to the PAC at August, 2019.
  • Muy Brands, a San Antonio, Texas-based company that operates Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and Wendy’s franchises, was approved for a loan worth between $5 million and $10 million. Its owner, James Bodenstedt, has donated $672,570 to Trump since 2016, records show.
  • CloudCommerce, a company with a close relationship with Donald Trump’s campaign manager Brad Parscale, received $780,680.
  • Phunware,. a digital technology company that specializes in the mass collection of smartphone location data and is working for President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign, received $2.85 million.
  • Vital Pharmaceuticals, the maker of Bang Energy drink, gave $250,000 to America First Action on 2019, the only super PAC with the president’s official endorsement; the company’s CEO, Jack Owoc, is an ardent Trump supporter who has been pictured socializing with members of Trump’s family, received between $5 million and $10 million.
  • The Joseph Kushner Hebrew Day Academy, a school named after Trump advisor and son-in-law Jared Kushner’s grandfather, reportedly received a loan between $1 and $2 million.
  • Kasowitz Benson Torres, founded and run by President Trump’s longtime personal lawyer, Marc E. Kasowitz, received a loan somewhere between $5 million and $10 million.
  • Sushi Nakazawa, a restaurant at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, received a loan of between $150,000 and $350,000.
  • Esplanade Livingston, a Kushner family entity that owns the land in Livingston, N.J., where the family’s Westminster Hotel is. In 2018, Mr. Kushner divested his stake in the entity, from which he once derived income generated by that hotel, received between $350,000 and $1 million.
  • Princeton Forrestal, a real estate entity owned by various members of the Kushner family not including Mr. Kushner, received a loan of between $1 million and $2 million.
  • Patrick Broadcasting, which is owned by Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, a firebrand conservative and former talk radio host, received a loan of $179,000
  • Albright Stonebridge Group, an advisory firm co-chaired by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright received a loan for between $2 million and $5 million.
  • The McChrystal Group, an Alexandria, Virginia, consulting firm founded in 2011 by retired four-star Gen. Stanley McChrystal, also received a PPP loan for $1 million to $2 million
  • Companies associated with the family of West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice received at least $6.3 million from the program. Justice, a Republican, is considered to be West Virginia’s richest person through his ownership of dozens of coal and agricultural businesses, many of which have been sued for unpaid debts. At least six Justice family businesses were approved for loans, including The Greenbrier Sporting Club, an exclusive club attached to a lavish resort that Justice owns called The Greenbrier.
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband is among lawmaker linked to PPP loan recipients. Paul Pelosi owns 8.1 percent of EDI Associates, which got a loan of between $350,000 and $1 million.
  • Foremost Group, a shipping business owned by Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao’s family, received between $350,000 and $1 million.
  • Waxman Strategies, the lobbying firm run by former Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and his son, Michael Waxman, received $500,000.
  • Companies owned by or associated with Reps. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.), Kevin Hern (R-Okla.), Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.) and Rick Allen (R-Ga.) Reps. Roger Williams (R-Texas), Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.), Susie Lee (D-Nev.), and Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D-Fla.), also received the PPP loans.
  • The Ayn Rand Institute, a center dedicated to promoting Rand’s well-known brand of hardcore capitalism, was approved for a loan of up to $1 million
  • NewsMax, a conservative website was approved for a loan up to $5 million; NewsMax CEO Christopher Ruddy has donated $525,000 to political committees supporting Trump, records show.
  • Robert Kiyosaki, the best-selling author of the “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” series of personal finance books and games, received a loan between $350,000 and $1 million. Kiyosaki, who co-wrote two books with Donald Trump, has been a strong critic of efforts by the Federal Reserve and Treasury Department to support the economy since the pandemic intensified. On Twitter April 2, 2020, he criticized the PPP just one day before it began taking applications, calling it “socialism for rich.”
  • The Americans for Tax Reform Foundation (ATR), was approved for a loan of up to $350,000. ATR, led by the anti-tax activist Grover Norquist, who has long supported a smaller federal government, said it didn’t oppose the PPP. It described the program “as compensation for a government taking during the shutdown.” According to their website.
  • Citizens Against Government Waste got a loan of between $150,000 and $350,000.
  • Art organizations for the rich and the famous, such as: Carnegie Hall, Whitney Museum of American Art in New York and the San Francisco Symphony, each of them has large wealthy donor based, still received the loan between $5 million to $10 million.
  • Lerner Corp., owned by billionaire Ted Lerner. also owns a majority stake in the Washington Nationals baseball franchise, which just won the 2019 World Series, has a personal net worth of about $4.4 billion, according to an analysis by Forbes, received a PPP loan for between $5 million and $10 million.
  • The Archdiocese of New York reportedly received between $5 and $10 million, while other archdioceses in Miami and Denver received between $1 and $2 million.
  • More than 100 law firms received loans ranging from $1 million to $10 million, the SBA data showed.
  • Lobbying firms that received loans included APCO Worldwide, Banner Public Affairs, the Conafay Group, Miller & Chevalier; Kasowitz Benson Torres, Wiley, Kelley Drye & Warren and Van Ness Feldman.
  • Public affairs and strategic communications firms that received loans included Firehouse Strategies, Nahigian Strategies, Keybridge Communications, ROKK Solutions, Purple Strategies, FP1 Strategies, the DCI Group, Hilltop Public Solutions, Adfero, Gunster Strategies, Hamilton Place Strategies, the Glen Echo Group, the Clyde Group, the Herald Group, the Messina Group, LEVICK, Civitas Public Affairs and Locust Street.
  • Kasowitz Benson Torres, founded and run by Mr. Trump’s longtime personal lawyer, Marc E. Kasowitz, received a loan for between $5 million and $10 million.
  • Nearly 600 asset management companies and private equity firms were approved for money from the PPP,
  • Rosenblatt Securities, which commands one of the largest physical presences on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, received between $1 million and $2 million.
  • Boies Schiller Flexner, the high-priced law firm run by David Boies, received between $5 million and $10 million.
  • Wiley Rein, which has a large lobbying practice focusing on trade issues, received between $5 million and $10 million.
  • Van Ness Feldman and Beveridge & Diamond, two law firms that focus on helping energy industry clients push their agendas in Washington, received loans between $2 million and $5 million.
  • Semper Investment Firm, which bets more than $2.5 billion on mortgage and other asset-backed securities, received a $726,200 loan.
  • Domini Impact Investments LLC, a mutual fund manager with about $2 billion under management, received a loan.
  • Brevet Holdings LLC, a $1.2 billion lending firm, also received a loan.
  • Truvvo Wealth Management LP, which manages more than $2 billion for large families and institutions, received a loan.
  • PF Chang’s, an expensive fake Chinese restaurant chain, backed by private equity firm TriArtisan Capital Advisors, was reportedly approved for a loan between $5 million and $10 million.
  • Dallas-based TGI Fridays, which has around 500 restaurants nationwide, obtained between $5 million and $10 million. PF Chang’s and TGI Fridays both owned by the New York private equity firm TriArtisan Capital Advisors.
  • Kanye West’s clothing-and-sneaker brand Yeezy received a loan of between $2 million and $5 million.
  • Road Dog Touring, Inc. a Nashville company was approved for a loan of $2 million to $5 million. The company owns the official website of country singer Tim McGraw and R & B artist Faith Hill.
  • Good American, the jeans and activewear line of Khloe Kardashian and her business partner Emma Grede, obtained a loan of between $1 million and $2 million.
  • Draper James, Reese Witherspoon’s Southern-themed clothing brand, received between $350,000 and $1 million.
  • Nobu, the luxury sushi and hotel chain founded by actor Robert De Niro and celebrity chef Nobu Matsuhisa, reportedly received between $11 million and $28 million。
  • The National Girl Scouts of America received a loan between $5 and $10 million; in addition, more than 30 Girls Scout chapters nationwide received PPP loans. The Girl Scouts of Northern California, for example, received between $2 and $5 million and the Girl Scouts of Colorado, Connecticut, and Illinois each received between $1 and $2 million.
  • Soho House, the billionaire-backed private members-only club, reportedly received six different loans between $350,000 and $10 million for its Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, and New York locations.
  • Burning Man, the iconic ‘commerce-free’ festival, received between $2 and $5 million.
  • Jeff Koons, a modernist sculptor whose “Rabbit” sculpture fetched $91 million at auction in 2019, was approved for $1 million to $2 million.

The capitalist COVID-19 money-grab came during a prolonged recession. Tens of thousands of small businesses may be gone forever with millions of people losing their jobs. A permanent economic crisis could lead to more state and local budget shortfalls.

According to the Economic Policy Institute Director of Research Josh Bivens “We think that if the federal government fails to address the coming state and local government shortfalls, it will guarantee a prolonged recession and several years of excess unemployment…We have noted estimates of the state and local shortfalls between now and the end of 2021 hover around $1 Trillion, and if we do nothing to close that gap, we’ll end 2021 with roughly 5 million fewer jobs in the US economy than we otherwise would have had.”

These are the numbers at the height of the COVID-19 wave.

(Source: Common Dreams, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, China Global Times, Associated Press, Reuters, Mother Jones, New York Daily News, Business Insider, Open Secretes, Politico, The Fiscal Times, Washington Business Journal, Salon, Lansing State Journal)