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Trump Organization, Kushner Companies benefited from pandemic relief loans: report

Businesses at properties owned by the Trump Organization and President Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner's family reportedly received more than two dozen Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans worth more than $3.65 million.

An analysis by NBC News of Small Business Administration (SBA) data released Tuesday night found that millions of dollars were given to businesses located at Trump Organization and Kushner Companies properties that pay rent to the two companies.

NBC reported that 15 of those properties self-reported that after receiving the PPP loans, they kept only one employee, did not keep any employees or did not report how many workers they retained.

Among the loans was one for $2,164,543 to the Triomphe Restaurant Corp., located at Trump International Hotel & Tower in New York City. The company reported the money was not used to keep any jobs. The restaurant later closed.

Additionally, NBC reported that two tenants at Trump Tower in New York received more than $100,000 and only kept three jobs, while four tenants at the Kushner Companies-owned 666 5th Avenue received a total of more than $204,000 and held just six jobs.

A company called LB City Inc., which is located at Kushner Companies' Bungalow Hotel in Long Branch, N.J., kept 155 jobs after receiving a loan for $505,552.50.

The SBA data also showed that more than 100 loans were given to companies where no business name was listed or which stated there was "no name available," according to NBC. 

More than 300 companies appeared to receive more than $10 million in loans, although the loan program stipulated that businesses should not receive that much, except for companies in the food, hospitality or hotels industries.

NBC was one of 11 news organizations that sued the SBA for the data. In early November, a federal judge ordered the agency to disclose the names, addresses and specific loan amounts issued through the PPP and Emergency Injury Disaster Loan program.

Kyle Herrig, president of the watchdog group Accountable.US, said in a statement to NBC that "the court-ordered release of this crucial data while the Trump administration is one foot out the door is a shameful dereliction of duty and flagrant mismanagement of a program that millions of workers and small businesses needed to get through this pandemic."

The PPP program, launched in April as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, was meant to provide support and relief to small businesses impacted by health restrictions and lockdown measures amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Christopher W. Smith, general counsel for Kushner Companies, said in an emailed statement to The Hill: "The notion that Kushner Companies somehow improperly benefited from CARES Act Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans is completely untrue and amounts to nothing more than politically motivated nonsense."

"Exactly two Kushner Companies' hotel operations affiliates received PPP loans," he added. "Every provision of the PPP program has been comprehensively abided with respect to each of the two loans - and every penny of the funds received from the program was utilized to fund employee payroll and benefits costs to maintain jobs imperiled by the COVID pandemic and associated lockdown measures."

Trump Organization spokesperson Kimberly Benza said in an email to The Hill that NBC's reporting "is incredibly inaccurate and misleading" and that the company has "demanded an immediate retraction" of the story.

Government accountability groups have questioned the effectiveness and management of the PPP loans, with uncertainty over what was considered a small business and claims of lack of transparency on how the loans were administered.

On Tuesday evening, The Washington Post reported that more than half the money from the PPP fund went to just 5 percent of the recipients, while roughly 600 mostly larger companies, including dozens of national chains, received the maximum amount allowed of $10 million.

An SBA spokesman said in a statement along with the data release Tuesday evening that "SBA's historically successful Covid relief loan programs have helped millions of small businesses and tens of millions of American workers when they needed it most."

--Updated at 1:43 p.m.

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