by Paul Kiel and Justin Elliott, ProPublica.org
After resisting its release, the administration revealed information on companies that received more than $150,000 in PPP funds.
After months of delays and outright refusals, the Trump administration publicly released the names of some companies that received taxpayer money through the Paycheck Protection Program.
There has also been reporting that the program favored wealthier and well-connected firms. Do you know of a politically connected, high-profile, or otherwise notable business that received funds? Please email us at email@example.com.
The disclosure is limited to businesses that received over $150,000. Those companies represent only a small portion of those that received funding — about 650,000 of almost 5 million businesses, according to the Small Business Administration. Still, those 650,000 businesses got almost three-fourths of the money doled out.
The PPP is one of the marquee programs of the government’s massive pandemic relief package. Created in late March by the CARES Act, it allowed small businesses (generally, those with fewer than 500 employees) to apply for loans of up to $10 million. Those applying had to certify that “current economic uncertainty” made a loan “necessary to support the ongoing operations” of the business. Businesses that spend the money according to key provisions of the program, which mainly involve continuing to pay workers, will have the loans forgiven.
As of last week, $519 billion had been lent, but with applications to the program slowing after the initial rush, $134 billion remained unspent. The deadline to apply was June 30. Legislation to extend the deadline until August 8 was signed by President Donald Trump on July 4.
The administration is finally disclosing some PPP recipients after first saying that it would (eventually), then that it wouldn’t, and then, after lawsuits and mounting pressure from Congress, that it would again.
ProPublica, along with several other media organizations, filed suit in May to compel disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act. That suit, which is still pending, seeks the release of all PPP recipients and how much money they received.
In June, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told Congress that the names of businesses were “proprietary information” and that the Treasury wouldn’t be disclosing them. But a bipartisan chorus of lawmakers pushed for disclosure, finally resulting in a compromise to release information only for larger recipients. Mnuchin had argued that information about sole proprietors should remain confidential. The data also only provides a dollar range for each loan as opposed to the exact amount.
This article originally appeared on ProPublica.org on July 7, 2020, and is republished with permission under Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 US)