As much as $273 million in federal coronavirus aid was awarded to more than 100 companies that are owned or operated by major donors to President Donald Trump’s election efforts, according to an Associated Press analysis of federal data.
Many were among the first to be approved for a loan in early April, when the administration was struggling to launch the lending program. And only eight businesses had to wait until early May before securing the aid, according to the AP’s review of data released Monday.
The Trump-connected companies obtained the aid through the Paycheck Protection Program, which extends a lifeline to small businesses struggling to navigate the pandemic. Fast-food chains like Muy Brands, oil and gas companies and white-collar firms were all granted a slice of more than $659 billion in low-interest business loans that will be forgiven if the money is used on payroll, rent and similar expenses.
All told, the Trump supporters who run these companies have contributed at least $11.1 million since May 2015 to Trump’s campaign committees, the Republican National Committee and America First Action, a super PAC that has been endorsed by Trump, the AP review found. Each donor gave at least $20,000.
July 7, 2020
Businesses tied to President Donald Trump’s family and associates stand to receive as much as $21 million in government loans designed to shore up payroll expenses for companies struggling amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to federal data released Monday.
A hydroponic lettuce farm backed by Trump’s eldest son, Donald Jr., applied for at least $150,000 in Small Business Administration funding. Albert Hazzouri, a dentist frequently spotted at Mar-a-Lago, asked for a similar amount. A hospital run by Maria Ryan, a close associate of Trump lawyer and former mayor Rudy Giuliani, requested more than $5 million. Several companies connected to the president’s son-in-law and White House adviser, Jared Kushner, could get upward of $6 million.
There’s no ban on businesses connected to Trump’s orbit receiving money. Democrats added a provision to the CARES Act excluding government officials and their family members from receiving some bailout funds, but not those from the PPP.
The firms sought funding under the Paycheck Protection Program, one of the Trump administration’s sweeping pandemic relief efforts. 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. The loans can be forgiven if used to cover payroll, rent, mortgage interest or utilities. […]
The New York Observer, the news website that Kushner ran before entering the White House and is still owned by his brother-in-law’s investment firm, was approved for between $350,000 and $1 million, data shows. A company called Princeton Forrestal LLC that is at least 40 percent owned by Kushner family members, according to a 2018 securities filing, was approved for $1 million to $2 million. Esplanade Livingston LLC, whose address is the same as that of the Kushner Companies real estate development business, was approved for $350,000 to $1 million. The company didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. The loans to Kushner-related companies were first reported by The Daily Beast.
In addition, up to $2 million was approved for the Joseph Kushner Hebrew Academy, a nonprofit religious school in Livingston, N.J., that’s named for Jared Kushner’s grandfather and supported by the family.
In April, a bank approved a loan of between $150,000 and $350,000 for the Pennsylvania dental practice of Albert Hazzouri, who golfs with Trump and frequents Mar-a-Lago, the president’s private club in Palm Beach, Florida. In 2017, Hazzouri used his access to the president to pass him a policy proposal on club stationery on behalf of the American Dental Association. He addressed the note to Trump “Dear King.” […]
Firms tied to the president’s children also stand to benefit from the program. A small indoor lettuce farming business applied for funds between $150,000 and $350,000, SBA data show. Trump Jr. had invested in Eden Green Technology, a vertical farming company just south of Dallas, whose co-chair, Gentry Beach, was a Trump campaign fundraiser. […]
Monday’s list included a Manhattan law firm whose marquee attorney has fiercely defended Trump for almost two decades. Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP — whose managing partner, Marc Kasowitz, was at one point the president’s top lawyer in the special counsel’s Russia investigation — was set to receive between $5 million and $10 million from Citibank, data show. (The largest loan a company could seek was $10 million.)
Once dubbed the “Donald Trump of lawyering” by The New York Times, Kasowitz represented Trump in the Trump University fraud lawsuit. and during the 2016 campaign he helped keep Trump’s 1990 divorce from being unsealed. ProPublica reported three years ago that Kasowitz bragged to friends that he made between $10 million and $30 million per year. […]
The loans helped a hospital executive tightly linked to another Trump attorney and confidant, Rudy Giuliani. Cottage Hospital, a 25-bed critical access facility in Woodsville, New Hampshire, received between $2 million and $5 million in PPP loans. The hospital’s CEO, Maria Ryan, is a longtime close associate of Giuliani’s.
July 6, 2020
Forty lobbyists with ties to President Donald Trump helped clients secure more than $10 billion in federal coronavirus aid, among them five former administration officials whose work potentially violates Trump’s own ethics policy, according to a report.
The lobbyists identified Monday by the watchdog group Public Citizen either worked in the Trump executive branch, served on his campaign, were part of the committee that raised money for inaugural festivities or were part of his presidential transition. Many are donors to Trump’s campaigns, and some are prolific fundraisers for his reelection.
They include Brian Ballard, who served on the transition, is the finance chair for the Republican National Committee and has bundled more than $1 million for Trump’s fundraising committees. He was hired in March by Laundrylux, a supplier of commercial laundry machines, after the Department of Homeland Security issued guidance that didn’t include laundromats as essential businesses that could stay open during the lockdown. A week later, the administration issued new guidance adding laundromats to the list.
Dave Urban, a Trump adviser and confidant, has collected more than $2.3 million in lobbying fees this year. The firm he leads, American Continental Group, represents 15 companies, including Walgreens and the parent company of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, on coronavirus issues. […]
— Courtney Lawrence was a former deputy assistant secretary for legislation in the Department of Health and Human Services in 2017 and 2018. She became a lobbyist for Cigna in 2018 and is listed as part of a team that has lobbied HHS, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and at least two other agencies. Cigna did not respond to a request for comment.
— Shannon McGahn, the wife of former White House counsel Don McGahn, worked in 2017 and 2018 as a counselor to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. She then joined the National Association of Realtors as its top lobbyist and is listed on disclosures as part of a team that has lobbied both houses of Congress, plus six agencies, including the Treasury Department. The Realtors association did not respond to a request for comment.
— Jordan Stoick is the vice president of government relations at the National Association of Manufacturers. Stoick’s biography on NAM’s website indicates that he is “NAM’s lead lobbyist in Washington,” where he started working after serving as a senior adviser in the Treasury Department. Disclosures indicate that Stoick and his colleagues lobbied both houses of Congress plus at least five executive branch agencies, including Treasury.
“NAM carefully adheres to the legal and ethical rules regulating lobbying activity, including ensuring that its employees comply with all applicable prohibitions on contacting their former employers,” Linda Kelly, the organization’s general counsel, said in a statement.
The group also said that the disclosure was filled out in a way that lumped the work of multiple lobbyists together in one entry and that the filing “in no way means every lobbyist contacted every listed office.”
— Geoffrey Burr joined the firm Brownstein Hyatt after serving as chief of staff to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao. The firm’s lobbying disclosure for the first quarter of 2020 includes Burr on a list of lobbyists who contacted the White House and Congress on coronavirus-related matters on behalf of McDonald’s.
— Emily Felder joined Brownstein Hyatt after leaving the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, where she worked in the legislative office. Felder is listed on a disclosure from the first quarter of 2020 that shows she was part of a team that lobbied Congress and the White House.
July 5, 2020
In early April, as U.S. supplies of N95 surgical masks were dwindling, President Trump took aim at 3M, America’s biggest mask maker.
Mr. Trump invoked the Defense Production Act, which authorized the head of FEMA to “acquire” any and all 3M N95s. The move set off a week of negotiations leading 3M and the White House to strike a deal to distribute more N95 masks in the U.S.
Four days later, Eric Beach, who had no experience in supplying medical goods, formed Colt International, Inc. touting connections with 3M. Beach is also the co-founder of the Great America PAC, which has raised more than $40 million for Mr. Trump. The PAC has produced attack ads against the president’s opponents, including rival Joe Biden. […]
CBS News obtained a letter sent to prospective customers by one of Colt’s “preferred partners.” The letter, apparently signed by Beach, assures buyers Colt would “work directly with the 3M Corporation” and its distributors — and provides Beach’s direct contact information.
Another document from Colt’s partner boasts that Colt’s relationship with 3M would provide local governments, hospitals and first responders access to a “current inventory” of “several billion units” of the urgently needed N95 masks.
The partner’s letter states that Colt would acquire the 3M masks, and then resell them at marked-up prices.
June 22, 2020