Some PPP Loan Recipients Are a Little Surprising

Kanye West, sculptor Jeff Koons, and the Church of Scientology are on the list
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 7, 2020 9:55 AM CDT
Some PPP Loan Recipients Are a Little Surprising
Kim Kardashian, left, and rapper Kanye West watch a Los Angeles Lakers game in January 2020.   (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

The Treasury Department has released the names of everyone who got a loan bigger than $150,000 through the PPP—the Paycheck Protection Program designed to help businesses weather the pandemic. While millions of small companies were helped by the loans, which can be forgiven if the money is used for payroll, some of the recipients were drawing particular attention:

  • Billionaires: NBC News lists some of the billionaires whose companies received loans, including Kanye West, whose Yeezy apparel brand took a loan of up to $5 million. West (who swears he's running for president) owns a 100% stake in the company, which is valued at $3 billion. Another billionaire, property developer Joe Farrell, a big GOP fundraiser, received up to $1 million. (Farrell made $2 million renting out his Hamptons mansion amid the pandemic.) Also, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice's family companies got at least $6.3 million.
  • Odds and ends: The AP rounds up others getting loans, including sculptor Jeff Koons (up to $2 million); the Girl Scouts (up to $1 million); TGI Fridays (up to $10 million); and PF Chang's China Bistro (up to $10 million). About 600 asset-management companies and private equity firms also got money, though financial firms weren't thought to have been badly hit by the pandemic, and their employees are well paid to start.

  • Trump ties: ProPublica reports that businesses connected to President Trump's family and close associates could receive up to $21 million. That includes at least $150,000 for a hydroponics lettuce farm backed by Donald Trump Jr., as well as multiple companies connected to presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner (for a total of $6 million).
  • Trump donors: The AP reports that roughly $275 million went to companies owned or operated by big donors to the Trump 2020 campaign. That includes a loan of up to $5 million to the conservative website Newsmax, whose CEO, Christopher Ruddy, has given $525,000 to pro-Trump PACs. Also, Muy Brands—operator of Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, and Wendy's—got up to $10 million. Owner James Bodenstedt has given more than $670,000 to Trump in recent years.
  • Obama ties, too: That friends of Trump received loans may be getting attention, but the Daily Beast notes that they went to the "well-off and well-connected in general" in DC, no matter their political affiliation. Everyone from former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright (up to $5 million for her global consulting firm) to anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist (up to $350,000) received loans. Obama administration alums Jon Favreau and Tommy Vietor got up to $350,000 for their Fenway Strategies company.
  • Grindr: The gay dating app sold just last month by a Chinese owner and valued at $620 million received a loan of up to $2 million, reports Reuters.
  • Scientology: Three of its churches took loans of $350,000 each, per NBC News. The Church of Scientology is thought to be worth at least $1 billion.
  • The full list: It can be accessed here through the Small Business Administration.
(More small businesses stories.)

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