According to a report from Politico, at least four members of Congress and their families cashed in on the multi-billion small business loan program set up to support companies hammered by the shut down during the still ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
As the report notes, they might not be the only ones.
According to the Politico report, “It’s a bipartisan group of lawmakers who have acknowledged close ties to companies that have received loans from the program — businesses that are either run by their families or employ their spouse as a senior executive.”
The report notes the four include two Democrats and two Republicans including Rep. Roger Williams (R-TX), who owns several auto dealerships, body shops and car washes, and Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO), “whose family owns multiple farms and equipment suppliers across the Midwest.”
The Democrats on the list include Rep. Susie Lee from Nevada, “whose husband is CEO of a regional casino developer, and Rep. Debbie Mucarsel Powell of Florida, whose husband is a senior executive at a restaurant chain that has since returned the loan.”
The report notes that there are likely more lawmakers who took advantage of the program, but because Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is refusing to reveal recipients it may be a long time before others are exposed.
“Democrats have tried to pry free the list of recipients. But their push in the House to require disclosure of at least some companies was blocked on the floor late last month by Republicans — including Williams and Hartzler, who voted against the bill. Lee and Powell joined all Democrats in supporting it. All four lawmakers have previously voted in favor of the small-business program,” Politico reports.
According to Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN) who wrote the bill, “This is the largest distributor of taxpayer money in human history, and we need to ensure taxpayers know where it’s going,” before adding, “his bill “was not written to expose members of Congress, because frankly I expected members of Congress to be forthright and transparent to begin with.”
Politico goes on to report, “Spokespeople for Williams and Hartzler declined to say how much money was provided under the loans to the privately held companies lawmakers own. Full House Resorts, of which Lee’s husband is the president and CEO, received $5.6 million, according to Securities and Exchange Commission filings. Fiesta Restaurant Group, which employs Mucarsel Powell’s husband as a senior executive, received $15 million before returning it in full.”
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