Why won’t the Trump Administration release the names of Paycheck Protection program recipients?
Even as the U.S. Justice Department has opened dozens of cases alleging fraud in the Paycheck Protection Program, another arm of the federal government refuses to say which businesses received the bulk of the taxpayer money: loans under the $150,000 mark.
“Good question,” says Lloyd Chapman, President and Founder of the American Small Business League.
ASBL is one of many plaintiffs now suing the Small Business Administration in order to compel the agency to release the names. ASBL’s lawsuit is similar to one in which many media companies, including NBC Universal, are plaintiffs.
“This information should be on the internet. You shouldn't have to go to federal court and spend you know thousands of dollars to see who got PPP loans,” Chapman told NBC5 Responds.
In court filings, defendant SBA asserts privacy as a primary obstacle here:
Saying the agency “withheld only confidential commercial information…the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.”
An argument ASBL’s founder does not buy.
Chapman said, “I don’t think the SBA’s justification holds water. When the people filled out the applications for the PPP loans, it says on information is going to be released….I think they are just stalling until after the election. And to me that means they think if this information came out, it might hurt the President’s chance of being re-elected.”
A spokesperson for the SBA declined comment, citing ongoing litigation as the reason.
What comes next could be swift. Parties on both sides have asked for summary judgment. If a judge is so inclined- the decision to release this information could happen later this month.