Allegations of coziness between various Trump and Kushner family members and the federal government—a recurring source of scrutiny for corruption watchdogs—are heating up again.
As President Donald Trump reportedly mulls pardons for Donald Jr., Eric, Ivanka, and Ivanka’s husband, Jared Kushner—who have not been accused of any crimes, but who Trump believes could become victims of retribution by the Biden administration—new data released by the Small Business Association reveal that the Paycheck Protection Program, the federal vehicle for small business aid during the coronavirus pandemic, supplied millions of dollars to properties owned by the Trump Organization and Kushner Companies.
The PPP, established by March’s relief package to help small businesses retain workers, oversaw two rounds of funding which were both depleted in days as the program fielded a stampede of applications from struggling small businesses across the country. Thousands reported difficulties with the application system, most of whom never received aid.
The program, which critics claim suffered from a lack of transparency, had resisted calls to publish the names of borrowers until Tuesday, when it released a full list of recipients under court order. The list is the most complete accounting yet of the PPP’s $700 billion in disbursed loans. According to an analysis by NBC News, over 25 loans worth over $3.65 million were granted to businesses housed within Trump and Kushner properties paying them rent.
Of those, 15 businesses either kept only one job, kept no jobs, or offered no update on job retainment.
Among the recipients were Triomphe Restaurant Corp. (part of the Trump International Hotel & Tower in New York, which received $2,164,543 in loans, did not keep any jobs, and later closed down) and four tenants at Kushner-owned 666 5th Avenue (which together received more than $204,000 and kept only six jobs).
The New York Times, on the other hand, identified nearly 100 tenants of Trump-owned 40 Wall Street, which together received more than $34 million from the program.
Terms of PPP loans specify that funds, if not used for payroll, can be spent on utilities, mortgage, or rent—meaning much of the money could have ended up in the pocketbooks of Trumps and Kushners via property-related payments.
Representatives from the Trump Organization did not immediately respond to Fast Company‘s request for comment. A spokesperson for Kushner Companies sent the following statement:
“The notion that Kushner Companies somehow improperly benefited from [PPP loans] is completely untrue and amounts to nothing more than politically motivated nonsense. Exactly two Kushner Companies’ hotel operations affiliates received PPP loans. Every provision of the PPP program has been comprehensively abided with respect to each of the two loans – and every penny of the funds received from the program was utilized to fund employee payroll and benefits costs to maintain jobs imperiled by the COVID pandemic and associated lockdown measures.”
Aside from the Trump and Kushner affiliate loans, the data suggested other questionable calls by management, including loans made to companies with no business name listed and loans totaling more than the allocated $10 million per company through subsidiaries.
Watchdogs continue to comb through the recipient data, which has since been organized by government accountability groups into publicly searchable databases such as SearchPPP.com.