Democratic members of a new House panel created to oversee coronavirus relief spending demanded that five publicly owned companies immediately return taxpayer funds the lawmakers said were intended for smaller businesses.
“Since your company is a public entity with a substantial investor base and access to the capital markets, we ask that you return these funds immediately,” the panel’s Democrats wrote to each of the five companies. The letters were not signed by the five Republicans on the 12-member panel.
The panel said the letters were sent to EVO Transportation & Energy Services Inc.; Gulf Island Fabrication Inc.; MiMedx Group Inc.; Universal Stainless & Alloy Products, Inc.; and Quantum Corp. The companies didn’t immediately return messages seeking comment.
A statement by the panel led by Chairman Jim Clyburn said the companies all are publicly owned, have market capitalization of more than $25 million, have more than 600 employees, and sought and received “small business” loans of $10 million or more.
The loans came from the Paycheck Protection Program, which provides forgivable loans to help small businesses keep workers on the payroll and pay their bills.
The letters ask the companies to inform the subcommittee by May 11 if they will return these funds. If not, the lawmakers will ask the chief executive officers to produce a range of documents no later than May 15.
“Unfortunately, many large companies were able to utilize this program and obtained PPP loans that were intended for small businesses,” the letters said. “Some of the companies returned these funds amid widespread public outrage. However, other companies -- including yours -- still have not returned these funds.”
“Returning these funds will allow truly small businesses -- which do not have access to alternative sources of capital -- to obtain the emergency loans they need to avoid layoffs, stay in business, and weather the economic disruption caused by the coronavirus crisis,” the letters said.
There was no immediate comment from the top Republican on the committee, House Minority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana, about why no Republican signatures were on the letters. Scalise was copied as a recipient of the letters.
The 12-member committee was created on a party-line House vote when lawmakers were in Washington last month to pass the most recent coronavirus aid package.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California didn’t announce his appointees to the panel until this week. He and other Republicans have said the committee isn’t needed because other committees are already doing oversight.
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