U.S. pandemic aid program saved 51.1 million jobs, but wealthy and connected also benefited

Agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting companies got at least $6.4 billion in U.S. coronavirus-related small business loans, government data released Monday showed.
Over 100,000 entities received funds including soybean and corn farmers, beef and dairy operations, hunters and trappers, vineyards, and fruit and vegetable growers.
The initial virus outbreak in China threatened American farm-good exports, just after the two countries signed a trade deal in mid-January. By mid-March, U.S. lockdowns walloped demand for food and fuel, forcing ethanol plants to shut down, dairies to dump milk and hog producers to cull animals.
The loans were part of some $521.5 billion issued so far by the Trump administration through the Paycheck Protection Program, which is the government’s biggest virus relief package.
A company tied to the husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi showed up among hundreds of thousands of recipients of loans from the $669 billion Paycheck Protection Program.

Paul Pelosi is “a minor, passive investor” in the firm, EDI Associates, said Drew Hammill, a spokesman for Nancy Pelosi. “He was not involved in or even aware of this PPP loan.”
Companies associated with President Donald Trump and members of his administration were among recipients of small-business COVID loans, newly released data show.
Loan recipients included a law firm run by one of Trump’s key defenders in the Russia probe, a Kushner family real estate project, and the publisher of the National Enquirer.
A high-profile pandemic aid program protected about 51.1 million American jobs, the Trump administration said on Monday, as it revealed how $521.4 billion in taxpayer cash was injected into small businesses but also into the pockets of the rich and famous.


FILE PHOTO: A woman runs past the Charging Bull sculpture in the Financial District as streets remain less busy due to the continuing outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the Manhattan borough of New York U.S., May 5, 2020 at 6:42PM. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
The data on the small business Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) seemed to confirm worries among Democrats and watchdog groups that in addition to mom-and-pop shops, the funds went to well-heeled and politically-connected companies, some of which were approved for between $5 million and $10 million.
Those include several firms that lobby on public policy, such as Wiley Rein LLP and APCO Worldwide, as well as prominent law firms like Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP, which has represented President Donald Trump and Boies Schiller Flexner LLP.
Kasowitz Benson Torres said the funding helped the law firm preserve hundreds of jobs at a full salary at a time when federal courts and its offices were shut down.
The gallery of well-connected names extended deeply into the world of America’s privileged and super famous.
Sidwell Friends School, an exclusive private school which educated former President Barack Obama’s daughters, was approved for between $5 million and $10 million, as was Saint Ann’s School in Brooklyn, which - with tuition exceeding $50,000 per year - is attended by the children of hedge fund managers and celebrities.
Newsmax Media Inc, the media company run by Trump donor Christopher Ruddy, got the nod for between $2 million and $5 million. So did billionaire rapper Kanye West’s Yeezy LLC clothing company. Newsmax said in a statement it was eligible for the program and did receive a loan, but declined to elaborate.
Aside from Kasowitz Benson Torres and Newsmax, the other companies and schools did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“The initial data is revealing many recipients that are appropriately raising eyebrows, which was one of the many reasons we wanted it public,” said Danielle Brian, executive director of the Project on Government Oversight.

DETAILED PICTURE

The colossal data set released by the U.S. Treasury Department and Small Business Administration (SBA), after initial resistance, gives Americans their first full look at who got cash from the first-come-first-served PPP that has been dogged by technology, paperwork, and fairness issues.
To date, the SBA has released geographical distribution figures but the new data paints a much more detailed picture of which communities and sub-sectors received support. Senior administration officials hailed the program as a “wild success,” with the data showing it supported about 84% of all small business employees.
The data includes information on 660,000 loans of $150,000 or more, including the recipient name, address, lender, business type, jobs retained, and some demographic information. That accounts for roughly 73% of the dollars granted, but only 14% of the 4.9 million loans, according to a summary of data the agencies released on Monday.
While the data does not say exactly how much money each borrower received, they are placed in one of five bands: $150,000-350,000; $350,000-1 million; $1-2 million; $2-5 million; and $5-10 million. More than 4,800 loans were issued in the top band, while the overall average loan size was $107,000, the data shows.
Among those in the mix: the Americans for Tax Reform Foundation, the whose stated mission is to curb government spending. It was approved for a loan of between $150,000 and $350,000.
Despite some eyebrow-raising recipients, the funds reached a wide swath of businesses - more than $67 billion for the healthcare and social assistance sector, $64 billion-plus for construction businesses, $54 billion for manufacturing and, at the smaller end, more than $7 billion for religious organizations, the data showed.

LINGERING QUESTIONS

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had initially refused to name any recipients, saying it could expose borrowers’ proprietary business information. But under pressure from lawmakers, he agreed to shine a light on large borrowers.
Launched in April, the unprecedented program - which has been extended until Aug. 8 - allows small businesses hurt by the pandemic to apply for a forgivable government-backed loan from a lender.
More than 5,000 U.S. lenders participated in the program, with JPMorgan accounting for $29 billion in loans. JPMorgan, Bank of America, Trust Bank, PNC Bank, and Wells Fargo originated 17% of total PPP loans, according to the data.
In the scramble to distribute funds, the program was beset by technology glitches, documentation snags, and revelations that some lenders prioritized their most profitable clients.
Some investment firms, for example, were also on the list.
That included Advent Capital Management LLC, a New York-based debt investor with $9 billion in assets; Metacapital Management LP, a New York-based fixed-income investor with more than $1 billion in assets; and Semper Capital Management LP, which invests nearly $4 billion in mortgage-backed securities.
Deepak Narula, the head of Metacapital, said his company decided it did not want the money and returned it “pretty quickly.” A spokesperson for Advent said the company explored but never completed an application and did not receive any funds. Semper did not respond to a request for comment.
Monday’s data is likely to raise further questions over whether the neediest benefited from the program and whether more companies should have returned the cash.
Roughly $30 billion in loans have already been returned or canceled, a senior administration official said. Those include loans taken by large or publicly listed companies that attracted fierce criticism for breaching the spirit of the rules, as well as loans issued to companies that decided they did not want or need the money after all.
The data shows loans that have been approved, but it does not say how much was disbursed, nor which loans have been forgiven so far. The loans were largely dished out on a good-faith basis, with borrowers certifying to their eligibility and the accuracy of the data they provided, meaning the figures on how many jobs were retained have not been thoroughly vetted.
Loans that appear to breach the letter or spirit of the rules may not be forgiven, and the Treasury plans to conduct a full review of loans of more than $2 million.
The Department of Justice has already brought charges against several PPP borrowers for fraudulently seeking loans, while several federal and state regulators are also probing misuse of the funds.
Grindr, the gay dating app valued at $620 million when it was sold recently by its Chinese owner, was approved for a $1 million to $2 million loan for small businesses suffering from the coronavirus outbreak, according to official U.S. data released on Monday.
China’s Beijing Kunlun Tech Co Ltd sold West Hollywood, California-based Grindr last month to an investor group called San Vicente Acquisition LLC after the U.S. government ordered the divestment amid concerns over the safety of personal data stored in the app.
Grindr generated a net profit of about $31 million in 2019, according to Kunlun’s annual report.
Facing public backlash, government warnings and private misgivings, more than a dozen companies and big businesses have so far announced that they have returned, or intend to return, small-business coronavirus relief loans issued by the Small Business Administration.
Under the Paycheck Protection Program launched in early April, businesses can apply for loans with their banks to help them shore up payroll and fund essential expenses, such as rent and utilities. If the businesses follow certain rules, such as using the bulk of the funds to keep employees hired and paid, the loan turns into forgivable grants.
Over a million businesses large and small applied under the loose guidelines, which said companies must have fewer than 500 employees and must be able to demonstrate economic injury due to the coronavirus shutdowns.
But after the $350 billion of initial funding started to run dry — and publicly traded companies with more access to funds started making headlines for receiving government assistance while smaller businesses were left out — some companies had second thoughts.
(An entire list of which public companies received PPP loans is available here, based on SEC filings analyzed by FactSquared, a political and media data firm)
The SBA and the Treasury Department issued new guidance this week, clarifying that the loans were not intended for companies with access to the equity market. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin warned companies last week that they could suffer consequences if they could not certify that they were facing economic injury. Companies have until May 7 to return funds "in good faith."
On Tuesday, Mnuchin said companies receiving loans over $2 million would be audited, and he warned of potential criminal liability.
Over $160 million of the over $900 million received by the nearly 300 public companies that disclosed PPP loans has been returned. Together, all the public companies which have so far disclosed receiving the funds have a combined market cap of over $18 billion.
Under the program, the maximum loan is $10 million, based on payroll calculations. Three restaurant firms got more than $10 million because each had two subsidiaries that applied for separate loans.
ADMA Biologics
Description: Specialty pharmaceutical company.
Loan: $5.4 million
Market cap: $259 million
Full-time employees: 313
Aquestive Therapeutics
Description: Specialty pharmaceutical company and maker of Suboxone, an opioid addiction treatment.
Loan: $4.8 million
Market cap: $139 million
Full-time employees: 232
Ashford Hospitality Trust
Description: Real estate investment trust specializing in high-end hotels, externally advised by Ashford Inc.
Loan: $45.9 million
Market cap: $80 million
Full-time employees: Unavailable
Ashford Inc
Description: Real estate asset management firm which advises Ashford Hospitality Trust and Braemar Hotels & Resorts.
Loan: $3.3 million
Market cap: $23 million
Full-time employees: 123
Aviat Networks, Inc.
Description: Maker and seller of wireless networking products.
Loan: $5.9 million
Market cap: $51 million
Full-time employees: 708
Ballantyne Strong
Description: Holding company whose subsidiaries make cinema equipment, projectors and lighting.
Loan: $3.1 million
Market cap: $23 million
Full-time employees: 290
BioLife Solutions
Description: Supplier of cell and gene therapy tools, including design and manufacturing of liquid nitrogen tanks and cryogenic equipment.
Loan: $2.1 million
Market cap: $230 million
Full-time employees: Not disclosed
BK Technologies Corp.
Description: Suppliers of two-way radio equipment.
Loan: $2.2 million
Market cap: $30 million
Full-time employees: 109
Braemar Hotels & Resorts, Inc.
Description: Real estate investment trust specializing in high-end hotels, externally advised by Ashford Inc.
Loan: $18.5 million
Market cap: $96 million
Full-time employees: Unavailable
CalAmp Corp.
Description: Sellers of equipment and systems for remotely monitoring vehicles.
Loan: $10 million
Market cap: $218 million
Full-time employees: 882
Castlight Health, Inc.
Description: Health benefits platform provider.
Loan: $10,000,000
Market cap: $108 million
Full-time employees: 463
Collectors Universe, Inc.
Description: Provider of grading and authentication services for collectibles such as coins, trading cards and autographs.
Loan: $4.2 million
Market cap: $202 million
Full-time employees: 377
Cytosorbents
Description: Medical device company whose flagship product, CytoSorb, is being used to treat sepsis in COVID-19 patients.
Loan: $1.4 million
Market cap: $310 million
Full-time employees: 153
Durect
Description: Biopharmaceutical research and development.
Loan: $2 million
Market cap: $421 million
Full-time employees: 90
Energy Services of America Corporation
Description: Natural gas pipeline maker and servicer based in West Virginia.
Loan: $3.3 million
Market cap: not available
Full-time employees: 85
Escalade, Incorporated
Description: Makers of sporting goods, including The Step.
Loan: $5.6 million
Market cap: $107 million
Full-time employees: 468
Fiesta Restaurant Group, Inc.
Description: Owner, operator and franchiser of the Pollo Tropical and Taco Cabana fast casual restaurant chains.
Loan: $15 million
Market cap: $170 million
Full-time employees: 10,480
Graham Corporation
Description: Designer and manufacturer of heat transfer equipment used in oil refining.
Loan: $4.59 million
Market cap: $129 million
Full-time employees: 337
Hallmark Financial Services
Description: Property and casualty insurers for businesses and consumers.
Loan: $8.3 million
Market cap: $56 million
Full-time employees: 439
IDT Corp.
Description: Newark, New Jersey-based telecommunications company that offers service and sells prepaid phone cards.
Loan: $10 million
Market cap: $152 million
Full-time employees: 1,270
J. Alexander's Holdings Inc.
Description: Holding company for several casual restaurant chains, including the Stoney River Steakhouse & Grill, Redlands Grill and Lyndhurst Grill steak chains.
Loan: $15.1 million
Market cap: $66 million
Full-time employees: 4,200
Kura Sushi USA Inc.
Description: American subsidiary of a Japanese sushi chain, with over 400 locations.
Loan: $6 million
Market cap: $107 million
Full-time employees: 1,400
Lantronix
Description: Makers of secure data access and management hardware and software.
Loan: $2.4 million
Market cap: $82.6 million
Full-time employees: 210
Lindblad Expeditions
Description: Luxury cruise provider
Loan: $6.6 million
Market cap: $343 million
Full-time employees: 670
Los Angeles Lakers
Description: Los Angeles NBA franchise.
Loan: $4.6 million
Estimated value: $3.7 billion
Manning & Napier, Inc.
Description: Rochester, New York-based investment management firm.
Loan: $6.7 million
Market cap: $58 million
Full-time employees: 297
Myomo
Description: A wearable medical robotics company which makes orthotics for patients with neuromuscular disorders.
Loan: $1 million
Market cap: $11.3 million
Full-time employees: 49
Nathan's Famous
Description: Casual restaurant chain specializing in hot dogs.
Loan: $1.2 million
Market cap: $253 million
Full-time employees: Not available
OptiNose Inc.
Description: Pharmaceutical company focused on delivering products to treat ear, nose, throat and allergy patients.
Loan: $4.4 million
Market cap: $195 million
Full-time employees: 221
Potbelly Corp.
Description: Restaurant chain with nearly 500 locations, specializing in heated sandwiches.
Loan: $10,000,000
Market cap: $72 million
Full-time employees: 6,000
Ruth's Hospitality Group
Description: Holding company that owns the chain of high-end Ruth’s Chris Steak House locations.
Loan: $20 million
Market cap: $274 million
Full-time employees: 5,740
Shake Shack
Description: Fast casual chain of made-to-order hamburgers and its namesake milkshakes.
Loan: $10 million
Market cap: $2 million
Full-time employees: 7,603
TransMedics Group, Inc.
Description: Develops commercial products for performing organ transplant therapy.
Loan: $2.2 million
Market cap: $380 million
Full-time employees: 109
U.S. Auto Parts Network
Description: Aftermarket auto parts and accessories provider. Online presence includes autopartswarehouse.com, carparts.com, and jcwhitney.com
Loan: $4.1 million
Market cap: $134 million
Full-time employees: 843
Ultralife Corp.
Description: Battery and communications manufacturer.
Loan: $3.5 million
Market cap: $112 million
Full-time employees: 573
Wave Life Sciences USA, Inc.
Description: Clinical-stage genetic medicine company, whose parent company is based in Singapore.
Loan: $7.2 million
Market cap: $300 million
Full-time employees: 301
Windtree Therapeutics
Description: Biotech and medical device company specializing in pulmonary and cardiovascular disease treatment.
Loan: $546,000
Market cap: $45 million
Full-time employees: 31
Tens of millions of dollars earmarked by U.S. lawmakers to assist small businesses in the coronavirus-induced economic downturn went to investment banks advising on corporate dealmaking, according to official data released on Monday.
As part of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), companies had to certify in good faith that “current economic uncertainty makes this loan necessary to support” their ongoing operations. The government-backed loan is forgivable as long as the companies restore employment to pre-pandemic levels.
Broadhaven Capital Partners LLC, which according to its website has advised on more than $50 billion worth of deals in the past decade, including the $4.5 billion sales this year of asset manager Legg Mason Inc to rival Franklin Resources Inc, applied for and was cleared for a PPP loan of between $350,000 and $1 million, according to a list released by the U.S. government on Monday.
Broadhaven representatives did not respond to a request for comment on why the investment bank applied for the loan and whether it had received and used it.
Technology-focused investment bank Union Square Advisors LLC, consumer and healthcare-focused investment bank North Point Advisors Inc and consumer-focused investment bank Sawaya Partners LLC were also each approved for a loan of between $350,000 and $1 million.
The loans helped retain 35, 31, and 24 jobs at each firm, respectively, according to the data released by the U.S. Treasury Department and Small Business Administration.
Representatives for the banks did not respond to requests for comment.
A spokesman for media and industrials-focused investment Methuselah Advisors LLC said it received a PPP loan for $169,160. He said it needed it to avoid letting staff go after several of its projects were discontinued or suspended.
JMP Group LLC, an underwriter of high-profile initial public offerings including those of ride-hailing start-ups Uber Technologies Inc and Lyft Inc, was approved for a PPP loan of between $2 million and $5 million, helping retain 126 jobs, according to the data.
A spokesman for JMP, whose shares have increased in value by a third since March, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.