Trump Admin Should Disclose Names of PPP Loan Recipients After Big Firms Tap Money for Small Businesses, Says Top Democrat

A senior House Democrat has urged the Trump administration to show "maximum transparency" about which companies are receiving support from a federal government scheme to provide forgivable loans to small businesses struggling during the coronavirus crisis.

Millions of Americans have filed unemployment claims in recent weeks because of the pandemic's impact on the economy. The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) is intended to help smaller firms keep their staff on the payroll.

Forgiveness of a PPP loan is tied to the amount spent by the recipient on payroll costs over an eight-week period. The program, introduced under the CARES Act to combat the economic crisis, is worth $350 billion.

It emerged that large firms were able to access PPP loans and some have repaid the money they received through the program, including the $4.6 million handed to the NBA team the L.A. Lakers, and $10 million given to the restaurant chain Shake Shack.

New York Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, told Just The News on Monday that his party wants the administration to disclose which companies are getting support through PPP.

"The American people deserve maximum transparency to ensure that the benefits are actually reaching the main street businesses, mom and pop shops, women and minority-owned businesses, veteran-owned businesses, small entrepreneurs and small family farmers who are the heart and soul of our economy," Jeffries said.

"We will continue to encourage the administration to maximize the disclosure as to who is receiving the support in connection with the Paycheck Protection Program so we can make the adjustments necessary as we go forward.

"And many have called for, including [Treasury] Secretary Mnuchin, the return of funding from well-capitalized companies that may have received support in connection with the Paycheck Protection Program but clearly don't need it."

Jeffries continued: "I'm thankful that the Los Angeles Lakers, or Shake Shack, and Ruth's Chris have thought better on the funding they have received and we would encourage other publicly-traded corporations to follow suit so that they relief can actually get to the Main Street businesses who need it."

Newsweek has asked the U.S. Treasury Department for comment.

Hakeem Jeffries
Chair of the House Democratic Caucus Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) speaks during a press conference after a House Democratic Caucus meeting at the U.S. Capitol on January 14, 2020 in Washington, D.C. Jeffries wants the Trump administration to disclose which companies are getting support through PPP. Getty Images/Drew Angerer

Secretary Mnuchin told The Wall Street Journal previously that all loans of over $2 million will face audits and there will be spot checks on smaller amounts.

"Before we forgive these loans, we'll check every single one over $2 million," Mnuchin told FOX Business in an interview. "So anybody that took the money that shouldn't have taken the money, one it won't be forgiven, and two, they may be subject to criminal liability, which is a big deal."

He added: "I encourage everybody to look at this and pay back these loans now so we can recycle the money if you made a mistake."

Guidance on PPP published by the Small Business Administration states that a company does not have to qualify as a small business concern under the Small Business Act in order to access support.

The guidance states that in addition to small business concerns, others eligible for PPP support include a business with 500 or fewer employees whose principal place of residence is in the U.S., or one that meets the SBA employee-based size standards for its industry.

Moreover, PPP loans are open to "qualifying tax-exempt nonprofit veterans organizations...and Tribal business concerns" that meet certain specifications under relevant legislation and the Internal Revenue Code, per the guidance.