Millions of dollars in taxpayer funds in the federal coronavirus Payroll Protection Program went to anti-gay businesses, schools and organizations, according to an analysis of the payments by NBC News.
The taxpayer loans can be forgiven and many likely will be, which would transform them into subsidies that will never be paid back.
The funds examined by NBC were paid to groups and businesses with either a history of anti-LGBTQ advocacy or “policies that explicitly discriminate” against the community, the network reported.
NBC listed 17 of the entities in its investigation. Seven of them —the American College of Pediatricians, American Family Association, Center for Family and Human Rights, Church Militant/St. Michel’s Media, Liberty Counsel, Pacific Justice Institute, and Ruth Institute — have been listed as “anti-LGBTQ hate groups” by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Those seven were paid a total of $2.5 million in PPP funds according to records, NBC reported.
One of them, the Mississippi-based American Family Association — which scooped up nearly $1.4 million in PPP funds — battles what it calls the “homosexual agenda” in the nation. Its so-called One Million Moms initiative urges supporters to boycott brands and media that promote “homosexuality and transgenderism,” according to its website.
Another, the conservative legal organization Liberty Counsel, which grabbed $428,000 in COVID-19 aid, advocates for “anti-LGBT discrimination under the guise of religious liberty,” according to the SPLC. The organization made headlines last year working to remove protections for gay people from a federal anti-lynching bill.
“It is simply unconscionable that the federal government would give taxpayer dollars to organizations that openly advocate against LGBTQ people,” Cassie Miller, senior research analyst at the SPLC, said in a statement in response to the NBC findings.
“At a time when millions of people in the U.S. are hurting because of the pandemic and the ensuing economic crisis, our federal government should not be sponsoring taxpayer-paid hate,” Miller added.
Among other anti-gay organizations reaping taxpayer funds is Immanuel Christian School in northern Virginia, where Karen Pence, Vice President Mike Pence’s wife, teaches. It received $724,900 in aid from the federal government, NBC found.
The school prohibits employees from engaging in or condoning “homosexual or lesbian sexual activity” and “transgender identity,” NBC reported last year. The school warns in its parents agreement that it may “refuse admission” or “discontinue enrollment” of a student whose household condones “sexual immorality,” such as “homosexual activity or bi-sexual activity.”
The program doled out nearly $5.3 billion to 5,160,000 recipients. More than half of the money went to just 5% of recipients, The Washington Post reported early this month.
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin refused to reveal full details of those who received PPP funds. But a lawsuit by several media outlets finally forced the release of all data this month.
The program was intended to help small businesses weather the economic downturn amid the COVID-19 crisis. But the rushed handout failed to build in sufficient safeguards. Much of the money went to deep-pocket corporations, and was also targeted by scammers who spent millions on things like homes and luxury cars.
Larger companies, including dozens of national chains, received the maximum amount allowed under the program of $10 million, the Post reported. Only 28% of the money was doled out in amounts less than $150,000.
“The data shows that this program primarily benefited the well-banked and well-lawyered at the expense of the small businesses it was supposed to benefit,” Liz Hempowicz, director of public policy for the nonprofit Project on Government Oversight, told the Post.
Check out the entire NBC expose here.