K. Lloyd Billingsley – July 24, 2020
The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), part of the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security package (CARES), is intended to blunt the economic damage from the current pandemic. As CNBC reports, the payouts include a $5-10 million loan for the Archdiocese of New York, $350,000 to $1 million to the Ayn Rand Institute and $1-2 million for the Joseph Kushner Hebrew Academy, named after the son-in-law of President Trump. The media payouts were also of interest.
Forbes Media bagged “at least $5 million,” according to CNBC and the Washington Times got at least $1 million. The Washingtonian and the Daily Caller both got at least $350,000, and The American Prospect received at least $150,000. While propping up media, the PPP payouts did not neglect the political side.
The Ohio Democratic Party got at least $150,000 and the Florida Democratic Party Building Fund got at least $350,000. The Women’s National Republican Club of New York got at least $350,000, with some $150,000 going to the Black Republican Caucus in Florida. PPP also shelled out $5-10 million to the Boies Schiller Flexner law firm, headed by David Boies, whose clients include former vice president Al Gore. As embattled taxpayers assess the merits of these payouts, they might consider an item CNBC managed to miss.
As Evan Symon reports in the California Globe, PPP loans of $150-350,000 went to PlumpJack Winery, owned by California governor Gavin Newsom. Last year Newsom reported more than $200,000 in income through PlumpJack, so the governor remains a beneficiary even though he relinquished control while in office.
Before the July 4 weekend, Gov. Newsom shut down bars, restaurants, zoos, movie theaters, museums and winery tasting rooms in 19 California counties. Missing from the shutdown list is upscale Napa County, where PlumpJack is located.
All told, the PPP payouts show some distancing from the kind of accountability taxpayers have a right to expect.