This is a rare moment. I’m actually finding myself handing out an ‘attagirl’ to a McClatchy drive-by for a rather decent piece of reporting. Danielle Battaglia dug up a number of North Carolina political celebrities from both sides of the aisle helping themselves to a nice chunk of federal government change meant to save jobs during the pandemic lockdown.
While naming names, Battaglia dug up an interesting hitch that we hadn’t thought about:
[…] For more than two decades, the Small Business Administration excluded those primarily engaged in lobbying or political activities from applying for agency loans. It was believed that federal tax money should not be invested into those activities.
When Congress authorized the PPP loans through the U.S. Small Business Administration to help companies harmed by shutdowns as COVID-19 spread, those rules still applied.
The rules allowed some firms in those industries to apply, but only if lobbying or political activity were not their “primary” lines of work.
The Department of Justice launched a task force to investigate possible fraud involving PPP loans, which has led to charges against people around the country. The agency just settled for more than $500,000 with a think tank out of Washington, D.C. Investigators said the nonprofit falsely claimed it was not primarily engaged in lobbying or political activity.
Of firms involved in North Carolina politics and lobbying that received PPP loans, none have publicly come under federal scrutiny.[…]
It was really amusing, at least in our shop, to read about some of these well-known politicos claiming that their work is not “primarily” political. (*IIIIIffffff y’all say so.*)
Looking at this SBA rule from another angle — What IF you are a powerful elected official in your state and you sought and obtained a loan for a business you own that may, or may not, be “primarily” political? And you didn’t ever pay it back?
Two we’re thinking about that weren’t mentioned in the McClatchy story: NC House speaker Timmy Moore and Lt. Governor Mark Robinson.
Sources indicate that the speaker sought out and won TWO paycheck protection loans for his Kings Mountain-based law firm.
The SBA also requires that applicants for the paycheck protection loans demonstrate a revenue shortfall of at least 25 percent for the year or years in question.
We’ve reported extensively on Mark & Yolanda Hill Robinson’s “family business” – Greensboro based Balance Nutrition.
Unlike Moore’s law firm, the Robinson business is a non-profit whose total revenue is supplied by the federal and state government bureaucracies. According to their IRS filings, the Robinson company assists the government with reimbursing private daycares for the cost of lunches for low-income attendees.
So, Mark & Yolanda would have had to claim – credibly and successfully – that they needed MORE taxpayer-provided funds to supplement an alleged shortfall in their company’s total revenues – which also consist of taxpayer funds.
For both of the years the Robinsons sought and won loans from the SBA, their company’s total revenues substantially increased. That’s according to forms they filed with the IRS. No decreases in sight. (*No, sirrreeebob.*)
Did the Robinsons tell the SBA that their revenues decreased those years? Was the information on their IRS filings wrong?