Right-wing groups took pandemic money from the government despite railing against 'handouts'
Author Ayn Rand via Official Ayn Rand Facebook

Last April, the Small Business Administration launched a $349 billion emergency loan program to help businesses struggling at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Right-wing groups that have long opposed the concept of increased government spending on “handouts” were the recipients of more than $1.7 million in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, according to new research by government watchdog group Accountable.US.

Throughout 2020, the same right-wing groups saw "significant increases in contributions or net assets."

“Right-wing groups that wave their finger at federal relief spending for local governments and working families never seem to mind when it benefits them,” Kyle Herrig, president of Accountable.US, said. “The same people who’ve made careers out of bashing government programs were among the first in line for taxpayer-funded assistance during the COVID-19 crisis — aid intended for struggling mom-and-pop businesses. Their hypocrisy is trumped only by their shamelessness. If these groups were serious about their own purported principles, they’d return that money to the taxpayers.”

The Intercept reported that, "Prager University Foundation, which hosts PragerU, received more than $704,000 in PPP loans the same year that it saw a 55 percent, $12.3 million increase in contributions from 2019, and a $15 million increase in net worth over the same period."

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The Ayn Rand Institute (ARI), whose mission is “to create a culture whose guiding principles are reason, rational self-interest, individualism and laissez-faire capitalism—a culture in which individuals are free to pursue their own happiness," received more than $713,000 in PPP loans last spring, according to the report.

“The CARES Act has created a moral dilemma for those Americans who value freedom,” ARI stated in a blog post. “The pandemic has cost them their jobs, their savings, their businesses. And they blame a significant part of this loss on the government. But because they oppose government handouts, they worry that accepting CARES money would be a breach of integrity. At the Ayn Rand Institute, we are dedicated to philosophic principle. And because we are, we will take any relief money offered us. We will take it unapologetically, because the principle here is: justice.”

According to the study, ARI reported $7.6 million in contributions last year, giving them a 19 percent increase from 2019. The group reported $1.2 million in gains last year, up from losses of $790,000 in 2019.

"Despite its stated aims, billions of dollars in Paycheck Protection Program loans went to wealthy business owners and not the mom and pop shops they were designed to support. Several such small businesses were denied outright or received less money than they asked for. The PPP program was also accused of shutting out Black small business owners," The Intercept reported.