All Of A Sudden, Trump Properties Appear To Qualify For Coronavirus Bailout Funds — He Fired Oversight Watchdog Last Week
Last month, Americans were told that President Donald Trump, his family or other officials would not benefit from the $2 trillion stimulus bill passed by Congress amid the coronavirus outbreak. However, some reporters have noticed there was no such language included for other elements of the bailout. In fact, the language suggests that some of Trump’s properties appear to qualify for coronavirus bailout funds after all.
It’s not known whether the Trumps will seek such aid. ProPublica asked the Trump Organization and White House about whether the company plans to apply for bailout loans. They did not respond.
What are the ways the Trump Organization could benefit from the bailout? ProPublica dug into it.
From the report:
First, at least four of Trump’s hotels each seem to qualify for a separate, forgivable loan…
The bailout has a huge loan program to help many businesses with payroll and other costs. While it’s only open to smaller companies, there’s a carveout for hotels: As The New York Times reported, the law says individual hotels can each qualify for separate loans, even if they’re all owned by a single company, so long as the hotel itself has 500 or fewer employees.
The provision was pushed by a hotel industry group, which argued it was needed for 33,000 hotels to qualify for the bailout. The group, of which some Trump hotels are members, organized a meeting between hotel CEOs and Vice President Mike Pence in mid-March to discuss the industry’s struggles and ask for help.
Each small business — and each hotel — can qualify for up to $10 million in loans, depending on payroll costs. The loans can then be forgiven if the money is used to cover payrolls and other ongoing expenses.
Four Trump hotels appear to qualify: two that Trump owns and two that his company manages.
Representatives at the four hotels did not respond to our questions about staff size or whether they plan to apply for loans through the small business loan program. The four hotels are:
The Trump International Hotel — Washington, D.C.
The general manager of the hotel, which the president owns, said in a 2018 interview about 450 people work there. (The interview was first flagged by the 1100 Pennsylvania newsletter.) The hotel’s company page on LinkedIn also lists the staff size as between 201 and 500.
Companies getting the loans must make a “good faith certification” that they need the funds to continue operating. Occupancy rates at Trump’s D.C. hotel dropped to as low as 5% at the end of March. Trump borrowed $170 million from Deutsche Bank to finance the hotel’s renovation, one of several loans with the bank he personally guaranteed.
Albemarle Estate at Trump Winery — Charlottesville, Virginia
Trump once boasted that his Charlottesville winery was the largest on the East Coast. It’s not. The property also includes a 10-room hotel that the general manager describes as having under 100 employees.
The Trump International Hotel and Tower — New York
The Trump Organization manages this hotel. Industry groups are still seeking clarification on who the eligible borrower is when a hotel is owned and managed by separate companies, a common business structure in the hotel industry. We talked to industry experts who said their understanding is hotel management companies can apply for the small business loans if they’re the ones who employ the staff.
Trump’s New York hotel reports a staff size between 201 and 500 on its LinkedIn company page.
The Trump International Hotel and Tower — Chicago
The Chicago tower is another Trump-branded hotel managed by the Trump Organization. It has a staff size of 450, according to the LinkedIn profile of the hotel’s managing director.
ProPublica also points out the problem with oversight:
Another question: What does oversight look like? The issue “is not just, ‘Will they receive the loans?’” Ahearn said, “but if they were to not comply with the terms of a loan or a grant, what would happen in that circumstance, and who would be making the decision about what to do about that?”
On Tuesday, the president sacked and replaced the federal watchdog who was supposed to oversee the bailout.The government agency running the program — the Small Business Administration — has not yet laid out what kind of information it will collect about businesses that receive loans and loan forgiveness, and whether that information will be publicly available.
The Small Business Administration did not respond to our questions about how oversight over the loan program will work.
Trump does have a record of availing himself of federal help meant for small businesses. After 9/11, his company applied for a program meant to help small businesses in lower Manhattan recover after the attacks.
The Trump Organization, which by then owned luxury real estate around the country, applied for the grant through a limited liability company that owned Trump’s Wall Street highrise. The company received a $150,000 grant.
You can read more here.