The Ohio Democratic Party applied for and received $334,000 in coronavirus-relief funds slated to buoy businesses that are struggling during the pandemic despite criticizing the Trump administration program as inadequate.
A campaign-finance report disclosed the $333,867 loan, which was approved by the U.S. Small Business Administration on April 30, the Columbus Dispatch reported.
Nearly three weeks after the loan was approved, the Ohio Democratic Party criticized the Paycheck Protection Program for granting an outsized amount of aid to larger companies while leaving smaller companies behind.
“With so many small businesses shut out from receiving PPP loans — while nearly 300 publicly traded companies received more than $1 billion from the program — local governments across Ohio are stepping up to help small businesses, which are often the center of their communities,” the state party wrote in a May 19 tweet.
The Ohio Republican Party eviscerated their counterpart in a statement, saying Ohio Democratic Chairman David Pepper is “a hypocrite and should pay back these loans immediately.”
The Ohio Democratic Party “took these funds to use for campaigning which could have gone to small businesses, but at the same time publicly lamented against the program,” Ohio GOP spokesman Evan Machan said.
The Ohio GOP “did not need to apply for these funds,” because “our financial situation is strong, and we were never at risk of not making payroll,” Machan said.
The Ohio Democratic Party defended itself from criticism over the loan, saying the money was used as it was intended, making sure the party could make payroll, and saved 20 jobs.
“The purpose of the Paycheck Protection Program is to help organizations cover payroll and benefits, and that’s precisely what it has been used for — to ensure our entire team continued to work and earn a paycheck and retain their health coverage during an unprecedented public-health crisis,” Ohio Democratic Party spokeswoman Kirstin Alvanitakis said in a statement.
On Thursday, the Florida Democratic Party said it will return $780,000 it received through the PPP after it received bipartisan criticism for accepting the loan.
“Like many employers during the shutdown, FDP was concerned about meeting payroll and keeping our staff employed, so we applied,” Florida Democratic Party spokesperson Luisana Pérez Fernández said, adding that the Small Business Association “made a mistake in approving the funding, so we are volunteering to return it.”
In late March, Congress approved $659 billion for the PPP in the CARES Act, which included more than $2 trillion in coronavirus-relief funds. Loan recipients who maintain payroll levels are able to have the loans forgiven.