Covid Relief Funds and Loans: Where Has The Money Gone?

Congress has allocated trillions of dollars in direct assistance and loans to support the American people during the Covid-19 pandemic. Billions have gone to companies with histories of misconduct, to businesses that have continued laying off workers even as they rake in taxpayer dollars, and even to those connected to the president or his family. American Oversight is investigating the distribution of these relief funds.

In March 2020, Congress passed the CARES Act, which appropriated $2 trillion in loans and grants to support government agencies, businesses, and individuals. But misallocation of funds and uneven assistance has raised concerns about who is — and isn’t — receiving this money. 

A Washington Post investigation revealed in September that most of the $1 billion that Congress gave the Defense Department to build up the country’s medical supplies was actually used to buy military equipment, with millions redirected to shipbuilding giants, aircraft parts manufacturers, and uniform companies. Ten of these defense contractors also double-dipped in CARES Act funding, receiving Paycheck Protection Program loans in addition to Defense Department grants. 

Also included in the CARES Act was the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which was designed to support small businesses with direct cash flow assistance. But the program’s flaws made it difficult for the vast majority of Black-owned businesses to qualify, with surveys showing that only 12 percent of Black- and Latino-owned businesses that applied for aid through the Small Business Administration received the aid they asked for. On the other hand, companies connected to President Donald Trump’s family, business partners, and political donors have received millions in loans. Large companies have also received PPP loans intended for small businesses. 

In one investigation, the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis found more than 10,000 loans in which the borrower received more than one loan — totaling more than $1 billion — even though the CARES Act prohibited companies from receiving multiple loans. The investigation also revealed that nearly 1,000 loans went to companies that were either suspended from working with the government or had previously been flagged for performance or integrity issues. 

Corporate watchdog group Good Jobs First found that 43,000 CARES Act aid recipients had been involved in corporate misconduct during the past decade. Past violations included Medicare and Medicaid billing fraud, violating overtime and minimum wage regulations, safety violations, and employment discrimination. These companies received $57 billion in grants and $91 billion in loans through the CARES Act.

Meanwhile, the SBA and the Treasury Department have faced criticism for potentially not properly vetting aid recipients. In July, SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza claimed that her agency was “doing all it can to reduce the risk of fraud on the loan side.” But in August, after providing more than $160 billion in Economic Injury Disaster Loans, the SBA was reportedly scrambling to enact key anti-fraud controls. Internal emails also showed that many loan officers were untrained and had been approving loans to applicants who should not have received them. 

The CARES Act also allocated funding to the Federal Reserve to establish lending institutions to support businesses and state governments. According to the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, almost half of the 500 large companies whose bonds the Federal Reserve bought have been accused of illegal conduct in the last three years. And 140 of these companies collectively laid off more than 1 million workers since March, 95 of which paid dividends to their shareholders while letting workers go. 

 

American Oversight is investigating the distribution of these relief funds. We’ve filed requests with the SBA, the Office of Management and Budget, and the Department of Health and Human Services seeking information about how relief packages are being implemented. We’ve also filed requests with multiple agencies, including the Treasury Department, for communications with the White House and Congress related to emergency relief funding. And we’re investigating the banking industry’s influence by seeking records of meetings between Wall Street executives and relevant administration officials. 

Related Documents

September 1, 2020

FOIA to ED Seeking Comms with Education Groups About Coronavirus Funding

Department of Education
FOIA Request
August 11, 2020

FOIA to OMB Seeking Records Identifying Entities Receiving Funds Previously Directed to the WHO

White House - Office of Management and Budget
FOIA Request
August 4, 2020

No Records Response from SBA Regarding Oversight Measures of Banks in PPP

Small Business Administration
Agency Reply
July 31, 2020

Rejection from SBA Regarding Disclosure of Largest PPP Recipients

Small Business Administration
Agency Reply
July 24, 2020

SBA Calendar Records Regarding a Specific Meeting with Bank Executives in March 2020

Small Business Administration
Agency Record
July 23, 2020

FOIA to HHS Seeking Email Communications Between Top Officials and United Healthcare

Department of Health and Human Services
FOIA Request
July 23, 2020

FOIA to HHS Seeking Electronic Communications with CEA Economist Stephen Parente

Department of Health and Human Services
FOIA Request
July 23, 2020

FOIA to CMS Seeking Email Communications Between Top Officials and United Healthcare

Department of Health and Human Services, HHS - Centers For Medicare and Medicaid Services
FOIA Request
July 23, 2020

FOIA to HRSA Seeking Contracts with United Healthcare Services to Administer CARES Act Funds

Department of Health and Human Services, HHS - Health Resources and Services Administration
FOIA Request
July 23, 2020

FOIA to HRSA Seeking Final Decision Memos Regarding United Healthcare Services to Administer CARES Act Funds

Department of Health and Human Services, HHS - Health Resources and Services Administration
FOIA Request
July 23, 2020

FOIA to HRSA Seeking Email Communications Between Top Officials and United Healthcare

Department of Health and Human Services, HHS - Health Resources and Services Administration
FOIA Request
July 23, 2020

FOIA to HRSA Seeking Electronic Communications with CEA Economist Stephen Parente Regarding UnitedHealth Group

Department of Health and Human Services, HHS - Health Resources and Services Administration
FOIA Request
July 2, 2020

FOIA to HHS Seeking Any Assessments of Adequacy of Federal Funding to Cover Coronavirus Costs for the Uninsured

Department of Health and Human Services
FOIA Request
July 2, 2020

FOIA to HRSA Seeking Any Assessments of Adequacy of Federal Funding to Cover Coronavirus Costs for the Uninsured

Department of Health and Human Services, HHS - Health Resources and Services Administration
FOIA Request
July 1, 2020

Complaint: American Oversight v. Treasury – Coronavirus Stimulus Package Communications and Calendars

Department of the Treasury
Litigation
June 16, 2020

FOIA to SBA Seeking Disclosure of the Largest PPP Recipients

Small Business Administration
FOIA Request
June 3, 2020

No Records Response from FED Regarding Communications with Banks

Federal Reserve
Agency Reply
June 3, 2020

No Records Response from FED Regarding Communications with Wall Street Executives

Federal Reserve
Agency Reply
June 2, 2020

No Records Response from FED of Communications with Banks

Federal Reserve
Agency Reply
May 20, 2020

FOIA to OMB Seeking Directives from the White House Regarding Implementation of the Coronavirus Relief Packages

White House - Office of Management and Budget
FOIA Request
May 20, 2020

FOIA Seeking OMB Directives Regarding Implementation of the Coronavirus Relief Packages

White House - Office of Management and Budget
FOIA Request
May 19, 2020

Treasury Records of a Meeting with President Trump and Wall Street Executives in March 2020

Department of the Treasury
Agency Record
May 7, 2020

FOIA to State Seeking Records Regarding World Health Organization Funding

Department of State
FOIA Request
May 7, 2020

FOIA to USAID Seeking Records Regarding World Health Organization Funding

U.S. Agency for International Development
FOIA Request
May 6, 2020

FOIA to DOL Seeking Directives Related to the Coronavirus Emergency

Department of Labor
FOIA Request
May 6, 2020

FOIA to DOL Seeking Economic Assessments Related to the Coronavirus Emergency

Department of Labor
FOIA Request
May 6, 2020

No Records Response from FED Regarding a Meeting with Bank Executives in March 2020

Federal Reserve
Agency Reply
May 1, 2020

FOIA to Multiple Agencies Seeking Communications between Brian Miller and Agencies Involved in Impeachment Inquiry

Department of Defense, Department of Energy, Department of State, White House - Office of Management and Budget
FOIA Request
April 29, 2020

FOIA to SBA Regarding Loans for Trump Organization

Small Business Administration
FOIA Request
April 29, 2020

FOIA to SBA Seeking Directives on Oversight of Lenders

Small Business Administration
FOIA Request
April 29, 2020

FOIA to SBA Regarding Loans for Large Corporations

Small Business Administration
FOIA Request
April 29, 2020

FOIA to SBA Seeking Communications Containing Terms Related to Coronavirus

Small Business Administration
FOIA Request
April 29, 2020

FOIA to SBA Seeking Administrator Calendars

Small Business Administration
FOIA Request
April 23, 2020

No Records Response From SBA Regarding Communications with Key Industry Individuals

Small Business Administration
Agency Reply
April 20, 2020

FOIA to Treasury Seeking Calendars of Senior Officials During Coronavirus Outbreak

Department of the Treasury
FOIA Request
April 20, 2020

FOIA to Treasury Seeking External Emails of Senior Officials During Coronavirus Outbreak

Department of the Treasury
FOIA Request
April 20, 2020

FOIA to Treasury Seeking Communications of Senior Officials With Jared Kushner During Coronavirus Outbreak

Department of the Treasury
FOIA Request
April 20, 2020

FOIA to Treasury Seeking Communications Regarding Select Provisions of the Coronavirus Stimulus Package

Department of the Treasury
FOIA Request
April 17, 2020

FOIA to Treasury and IRS Seeking Emails about Adding Trump’s Signature to Stimulus Checks

Department of the Treasury
FOIA Request
April 17, 2020

FOIA to Treasury and IRS Seeking White House Directives to Add Trump’s Signature to Stimulus Checks

Department of the Treasury
FOIA Request
April 17, 2020

FOIA to Treasury Seeking Cost and Delay Estimates to Add Trump’s Signature to Stimulus Checks

Department of the Treasury
FOIA Request
April 10, 2020

FOIA to Multiple Agencies Seeking Records from a Meeting with Bank Executives on March 24, 2020

Department of the Treasury, Federal Reserve, Small Business Administration
FOIA Request
April 10, 2020

FOIA to Multiple Agencies Seeking Records from a Meeting with Bank Executives on March 11, 2020

Department of the Treasury, Federal Reserve
FOIA Request
April 10, 2020

FOIA to Federal Reserve Seeking Communications with Banking Industry During Coronavirus Outbreak

Federal Reserve
FOIA Request
April 10, 2020

FOIA to Treasury Seeking Communications with Banking Industry During Coronavirus Outbreak

Department of the Treasury
FOIA Request
April 10, 2020

FOIA to SBA Seeking Communications with Banking Industry During Coronavirus Outbreak

Small Business Administration
FOIA Request
April 10, 2020

FOIA to Federal Reserve Seeking Communications with Bank Executives During Coronavirus Outbreak

Federal Reserve
FOIA Request
April 10, 2020

FOIA to Treasury Seeking Communications with Bank Executives During Coronavirus Outbreak

Department of the Treasury
FOIA Request
April 10, 2020

FOIA to SBA Seeking Communications with Bank Executives During Coronavirus Outbreak

Small Business Administration
FOIA Request
March 9, 2020

FOIA to the Federal Reserve Seeking Communications with the Banking Industry about Coronavirus

Federal Reserve
FOIA Request