Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Update To Yesterday's Look At The Republican Crooks Looting The Paycheck Protection Program


Totally In Control by Nancy Ohanian

I didn't know a lot of very rich people until I started working for them in the '90s when I moved to Los Angeles to work for Time-Warner. One of the first things I learned is that, generally-- and yes there are exceptions-- the richer the person, the greedier and more unscrupulous the person. That's how they got rich or maintained their wealth. There's no more recognizable example than Señor Trumpanzee and his personal corruption is reflected by his stinking, swampy regime and the officials he's appointed to run it.

As we discussed yesterday, his foul administration was caught handing out Paycheck Protection Money meant by Congress for small businesses, to dozens of his wealthiest donors. And now they're pretending to be outraged. Mnuchin is "demanding" the money back. Some, according to a report in yesterday's Washington Post by Jeanne Whalen, Aaron Gregg ad Michelle Ye Hee Lee, are refusing to give it back. A number of companies in the hotel, cruise ship and medical-device sectors that should never have been given the money to start with now say, according to The Post, that "they aren’t planning to return loans received from a small-business rescue program" because they "need the funds to stay in business. Their resistance comes days after the Small Business Administration suggested dozens of publicly held companies should give back money received from the Paycheck Protection Program by May 7. The agency said public companies with 'substantial market value' and the ability to raise money through capital markets were not the intended recipients of the funds, which were meant to help small businesses keep employees on the payroll during the novel coronavirus pandemic."

So why did the crooks in the Trump regime give them the money to start with? Is Barr too busy harassing governors who are trying to flatten the curve, to sue these criminal companies, many of them headed by Republican Party campaign contributors? The Post team wrote that "Facing criticism, companies including Shake Shack, Kura Sushi USA and Ruth’s Chris Steak House quickly announced plans to return the money.
Other companies are resisting returning the money. Lindblad Expeditions Holdings, which operates high-end cruises, said it met the criteria for applicants and plans to keep its $6.6 million loan.

The company reported having about $137 million in cash as of March 31, shortly after drawing down on a $45 million line of credit. The coronavirus prompted the company to cancel its cruises on March 12, a move it called “financially devastating.”

“Despite this circumstance, Lindblad is the very rare travel company that has not imposed any layoffs, furloughs or salary reductions to date-- because of our access to the PPP,” said the company, which employs 461 people in the United States.

Lindblad, which has a market value of $276 million, was taken public five years ago in a deal orchestrated by Mark Ein, a D.C.-based executive who owns the Washington Kastles women’s tennis franchises as well as Washington City Paper. The New York-based company is best known as the operator of National Geographic-branded exotic cruises that take tourists to locales such as the Galápagos Islands and Antarctica.

A group of hotel companies chaired by Monty Bennett, a Dallas executive and Republican donor, said it also planned to keep the funds.

Ashford Hospitality Trust, Braemar Hotels & Resorts and Ashford were among the biggest recipients of the loans, receiving them through multiple applications, according to federal filings. The companies said they applied for $126 million total.

In a statement, the companies said they have closed 32 of their 130 hotels and laid off or furloughed more than 90 percent of their workforce in recent weeks as the travel business has evaporated. “Our singular focus is to get back to the business of hosting guests at our hotels and helping the nearly 14,000 employees who work at our 130 hotels and related businesses return to work as the economy emerges from this terrible crisis,” the companies said.

“We believe it is just as important to bring employees back to work at larger companies like [Ashford] and [Braemar] as it is at smaller companies,” the statement added.

The loan payments to the companies have come under scrutiny, given Bennett’s political donations. Since the 2016 presidential campaign, Bennett has given more than $370,000 to support President Trump and the Republican National Committee, and has given to a slew of other GOP campaigns in the House and Senate, as well as their party committees.

Ashford’s statement said Bennett owns a “significant amount of common stock” in two of the companies, for which he did not receive first-quarter dividends. Bennett also owns “a large portion” of preferred shares in Ashford, for which dividends were halved in the first quarter, the statement said.

One company contacted by The Post, Nortech Systems, appeared to be on the fence, saying it had not yet decided whether it would return the money.

A Maple Grove, Minn., maker of medical devices and parts, Nortech said it thought it met all SBA guidelines when applying for a $6.1 million loan, including the strict definition of a small company.

“Without an influx of cash, specifically at this time, we potentially jeopardize people’s jobs at the company and we won’t be able to hire the additional staff needed to work on crucial ventilator parts for a large customer that has contracted to supply ventilators to the U.S. Federal Government,” Nortech said in a statement.

The company, which employs 470 people in the United States, also said its current market value of less than $10 million “severely limits our ability to raise additional capital via the public markets.”

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At 6:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

When democraps collude with Nazis on leaving pallets of cash in the middle of the street, you cannot express shock or horror when the most nefarious among us arrive first with the biggest trucks to haul the most away they can.

It is hypocrisy when you support your corrupt neoliberal fascist party but are shocked when they act in a corrupt neoliberal fascist way.


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