A high-profile pandemic aid program protected about 51.1 million American jobs, the Trump administration said on Monday, as it revealed how $521.4 billion in taxpayer cash was injected into small businesses but also into the pockets of the rich and famous, Reuters reported.
The data on the small business Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) seemed to confirm worries among Democrats and watchdog groups that in addition to mom-and-pop shops, the funds went to well-heeled and politically-connected companies, some of which were approved for between $5 million and $10 million.
Those include several firms that lobby on public policy, such as Wiley Rein LLP and APCO Worldwide, as well as prominent law firms like Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP, which has represented President Donald Trump, and Boies Schiller Flexner LLP.
Kasowitz Benson Torres said the funding helped the law firm preserve hundreds of jobs at full salary at a time when federal courts and its offices were shut down.
The gallery of well-connected names extended deeply into the world of America’s privileged and super famous.
Sidwell Friends School, an exclusive private school which educated former President Barack Obama’s daughters, was approved for between $5 million and $10 million, as was Saint Ann’s School in Brooklyn, which – with tuition exceeding $50,000 per year – is attended by the children of hedge fund managers and celebrities.
Newsmax Media Inc, the media company run by Trump donor Christopher Ruddy, got the nod for between $2 million and $5 million. So did billionaire rapper Kanye West’s Yeezy LLC clothing company. Newsmax said in a statement it was eligible for the program and did receive a loan, but declined to elaborate.
Aside from Kasowitz Benson Torres and Newsmax, the other companies and schools did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“The initial data is revealing many recipients that are appropriately raising eyebrows, which was one of the many reasons we wanted it public,” said Danielle Brian, executive director of the Project on Government Oversight.
The colossal data set released by the U.S. Treasury Department and Small Business Administration (SBA), after initial resistance, gives Americans their first full look at who got cash from the first-come-first-served PPP that has been dogged by technology, paperwork and fairness issues.
To date, the SBA has released geographical distribution figures but the new data paints a much more detailed picture of which communities and sub-sectors received support. Senior administration officials hailed the program as a “wild success,” with the data showing it supported about 84% of all small business employees.
The data includes information on 660,000 loans of $150,000 or more, including recipient name, address, lender, business type, jobs retained, and some demographic information. That accounts for roughly 73% of the dollars granted, but only 14% of the 4.9 million loans, according to a summary of data the agencies released on Monday.
While the data does not say exactly how much money each borrower received, they are placed in one of five bands: $150,000-350,000; $350,000-1 million; $1-2 million; $2-5 million; and $5-10 million. More than 4,800 loans were issued in the top band, while the overall average loan size was $107,000, the data shows.