A California advocacy group sued the Trump administration over not getting data it asked for concerning the massive Paycheck Protection Program.
American Small Business League, an organization based in Sonoma County, filed a lawsuit in San Francisco federal court Friday over the Small Business Administration withholding records concerning all Paycheck Protection Program loan recipients, and the loan amount given to each recipient.
The group wants a judge to order the Trump administration turn over this information. An SBA spokesperson said Wednesday that the federal agency does not comment on pending litigation.
The lawsuit is the latest controversy to visit the Paycheck Protection Program, part of the $2 trillion coronavirus pandemic stimulus bill. Under the program, businesses with fewer than 500 employees can receive low-interest loans intended for making payroll.
So far the program has doled out over $500 million in loans. Information released last week revealed thousands of California real estate companies who received loans including luxury multifamily developer Olen Properties Corp. and residential brokerage The Agency.
That information came from SBA releasing names of organizations netting at least a $150,000 loan. SBA did not specify loan amounts but instead disclosed ranges of $5 million to $10 million, $2 million to $5 million, $1million to $2 million, $350,000 to $1 million, and $150,000 to $350,000.
American Small Business League argues such information doesn’t meet the advocacy group’s public records request made in April.
“The SBA’s PPP borrower application form explicitly states to prospective borrowers that several categories of information will be explicitly released” which include the amount of the loan, the complaint notes.
The lawsuit also argues SBA defied its own track record of unveiling loan amounts in other programs including the agency’s longstanding 7(a) lending measure.
American Small Business League further notes that by the SBA’s own admission the majority of Paycheck Protection Program recipients got a loan of less than $150,000, none which have been publicly disclosed.
“What if those loans went to Trump administration donors?” speculated American Small Business League President Lloyd Chapman in an interview.
Chapman’s advocacy group has won a number of public records request judgments over the years. These include a ruling last month by San Francisco federal Judge William Alsup that the U.S. Defense Department unlawfully withheld from the public information regarding compliance reviews of major defense contractors.