TOP LINE

Several companies closely linked to members of Congress have received large loans from the Paycheck Protection Program, according to a report de Politico which comes in as a House committee that oversees loans is trying to increase the transparency of the program.

HIGHLIGHTS

The program, aimed at boosting small businesses affected by the pandemic, has been mired in controversy throughout its brief existence over issues of transparency, as well as fears that millions of loans have gone to large companies with a lot of money and companies with Connections to the administration, while millions of companies, especially minority ones, exclude.

Now, it appears companies with ties to Congress have also joined in the action, with at least four members of Congress personally benefiting from PPP loans, Politico reported on Tuesday.

Businesses owned by Representative Roger Williams (R-Tex.) And Representative Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.), As well as businesses related to the husbands of Representative Susie Lee (D-Nev.) And Representative Debbie Mucarsel Powell (D-Fla.), All received program loans.

The casino company run by Lee’s husband, Full House Resorts, received $ 5.6 million and Fiesta Restaurant Group, which employs Mucarsel Powell’s husband as an executive, received a $ 15 million loan that ‘he repaid in full, while Hartzler and Williams received loans for undisclosed amounts.

On Monday, the House select subcommittee set up to oversee the distribution of PPP loans spear investigated the disbursement of PPP funds and called on the administration to disclose the names of all PPP borrowers.

Williams’ Democratic opponent Julie Oliver criticized him for taking out the loan after voting against legislation to increase the transparency of the program, Tweeter, “This is the largest distribution of taxpayer money in the history of the country. # TX25 needs to know how this money is being spent. There was a bipartisan, common sense bill tabled in the House for disclosure. Roger Williams voted against. This is unacceptable.

Chief critic

Lee, who, along with the Nevada House delegation, press for the SBA to extend eligibility to casinos, was hit by a ethics complaint from the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust, a right-wing ethics watchdog group. “Conflict of interest laws are among the oldest and most important ethical laws,” said Kendra Arnold, who heads FACT. “This appears to be a fairly straightforward violation,” she added, calling on the Congressional Ethics Office to “fully investigate this matter as soon as possible.”

Key quote

Williams, one of the wealthiest members of Congress who voted against a bill that would have required the Small Business Administration to disclose loans over $ 2 million, forbidden the loan in a press release in May. “Our company has qualified under the law and regulations, and today over 100 of our employees thank us for doing so,” Williams wrote. Hartzler also published a declaration announcing his loan in April, stating “As small business owners, my husband Lowell and I also know the realities of this uncertainty and have taken steps to ensure the continued ability to maintain employment for all members of the team during this period “. Hartzler and Williams’ statements came shortly after local media reported on the loans. Spokesmen for Lee and Mucarsel Powell told Politico that officials support the bill to increase transparency in loan distribution.

Peg News

While, as Politico has noted, it is not illegal for members of Congress to take out loans, similar stories have had dire political consequences. Senator Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.), Who was accused of selling shares shortly before the pandemic after a closed meeting with Republican senators, has faced huge criticism and is dragging badly in his re-election campaign despite erased by the Ministry of Justice. His colleague, Senator Richard Burr (RN.C.) has resigned as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee for his own stock trading.

Correction: A previous version of this article stated that Representative Susie Lee’s husband is the owner of Full House Resorts. It has been edited to reflect that he is the president and CEO of the company.