Right-wing groups cashed in while collecting PPP loans

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“Public spending is a HUGE problem, “conservative video site PragerU tweeted in September 2019.” We need to reinvest in Americans by giving them a helping hand, not handouts, “the group wrote in another tweet in November with a video of Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson discusses inmate rehabilitation titled “Americans Need a Helping Hand, Not a Donation.”

But last year, right-wing groups that have long opposed the concept of increasing government spending on “handouts” received more than $ 1.7 million in loans from the Paycheck Protection Program while seeing significant increases in contributions or net assets, according to new research from government watchdog group Accountable.US. Last April, the Small Business Administration launched the $ 349 billion emergency loan program to help struggling small businesses at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

PPP loans to the Prager University Foundation, the Ayn Rand Institute, and the Americans for Tax Reform Foundation have all been made. Public last summer. But the 990 forms recently released for 2020 show that each group has seen their contributions or net income increase significantly while receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars in government grants.

“Right-wing groups that brandish federal aid spending on local governments and working families never seem to care what it benefits them,” said Kyle Herrig, chairman of Accountable.US, in a press release. “The same people who have made careers of denigrating government programs were among the first to receive taxpayer-funded help during the COVID-19 crisis – help for struggling family businesses. Their hypocrisy is only surpassed by their shamelessness. If these groups were serious about their own principles, they would give that money back to the taxpayers.

At first of the Covid-19 pandemic last year, shortly before the Prager University Foundation received a PPP loan, Dennis Prager was already at work to downplay the severity of the virus. Videos posted throughout the pandemic by conservative video site PragerU, which Prager co-founded in 2011, alleged that there had been an “orchestrated attack” on the experimental use of hydroxychloroquine, and that the death toll from Covid-19 has been inflated. The group’s YouTube page has 2.9 million subscribers and said its videos were viewed more than a billion times in 2019.

The Prager University Foundation, which hosts PragerU, received over $ 704,000 in PPP loans in the same year as it saw a 55% increase, $ 12.3 million in contributions from 2019 and an increase of 15 million. dollars in net worth over the same period. The nonprofit group, founded in 2009, has long criticized the concept of government spending and “donations”. In October, PragerU released a video titled “America’s Bankruptcy,” which criticized former President Donald Trump’s endorsement of “a massive increase in government spending” during the pandemic, as well as the additional spending of the United States. President Joe Biden.

The Ayn Rand Institute received over $ 713,000 in P3 loans last spring. The group’s mission is to “create a culture whose guiding principles are reason, rational self-interest, individualism and laissez-faire capitalism – a culture in which individuals are free to seek their own happiness.”

Last May, ARI published a blog explaining why it was okay to accept government aid despite Rand’s well-known stance against such programs. “The CARES Act created a moral dilemma for Americans who value freedom,” they wrote. “The pandemic has cost them their jobs, their savings, their businesses. And they blame a significant portion of this loss on the government. But because they oppose government handouts, they fear that accepting CARES money could be a breach of integrity. At the Ayn Rand Institute, we are dedicated to the Philosophical Principle. And because we are, we will take any financial assistance that is offered to us. We will take it shamelessly, because the principle here is: justice. “

ARI reported $ 7.6 million in contributions last year, a 19% increase from 2019. The group reported gains of $ 1.2 million last year, compared to losses of 790 $ 000 in 2019.

Americans for Tax Reform Foundation, the nonprofit wing of Americans for Tax Reform, received more than $ 290,000 in P3 relief last spring. The group said the loan had helped the company avoid layoffs, writing that it was a “legally and financially separate 501 (c) 3 research and education” that “was severely affected. by shutting down the government “. ATRF’s net assets grew 36% or $ 4.6 million last year, reducing its 2019 deficit from $ 17.5 million to $ 12.9 million. Americans for Tax Reform and its foundation were founded in 1985 by Republican Grover Norquist at the behest of former President Ronald Reagan to oppose all tax increases.

Despite its stated goals, billions of dollars in Paycheck Protection Program loans went to wealthy business owners, not the mom and pop stores they were supposed to support. Many of these small businesses were either turned down outright or received less money than they asked for. The PPP program has also been accused of excluding black small business owners.

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