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Advocacy group looking hard at Paycheck Protection Program

Posted at 9:07 PM, Jul 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-21 22:07:22-04

We continue to learn more about the businesses that received loans through the Paycheck Protection Program. These are loans that businesses may not have to pay back.

Several watchdog groups who fought for this transparency now are pushing for accountability.

A list of businesses that received forgivable Paycheck Protection Program loans from the federal government has just been released, bringing to light that millionaires, billionaires, and even a celebrity received federal aid intended to help struggling small businesses.

"From the very outset the public, watchdogs, and elected officials had a very good reason to want data to see where this money was going because as we just learned we had good reason to be questioning 'is this program going to do what it was intended to do?,” said R.J. Cross of the watchdog organization U.S. Public Interest Research Group.

This group pushed for the data release and now is pushing for accountability.

"A big improvement on the program would be true audits on all of the loan amounts, that say if we find that you could've probably gotten money somewhere else. We are going to take those taxpayers dollars back,” Cross said.

Currently only loans over $2 million will be audited, but most of the loans taken out, including some by millionaires and billionaires were just below that threshold.

"So we don't have any proof to say that they picked that amount strategically, but it certainly raises questions,” Cross said.

Watchdog groups say the only way to answer those questions, for the American people, is continued transparency and expanded audits.

"Fraud and corruption are a real concern anytime the government is spending and giving money to companies,” Cross said. “And especially the pace in which it is happening right now, and the amount of secrecy the administration has insisted there should be around some of these funds even when we have been promised true transparency.

“It means that there is reason to keep a very close eye on what is happening next. The biggest bailout in U.S. history deserves the most transparency in U.S. history.”

Now, it is just “wait and see” on whether the Small Business Administration and the Treasury Department will make a move to audit more of the loans. If either does, it could be years before we see the outcome of audits.