Watchdog Calls for Investigation; State Approves only 1,000 Businesses out of 38,000+ Applicants, Raising Questions on Selection Process
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Watchdog group Accountable.US today called on James E. Landsberg, the inspector general for Florida’s Department of Economic Opportunity, to launch an investigation after documents raised troubling questions about the distribution of $50 million of funding from the state’s “Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program.”
According to the group’s analysis of the records, out of over 38,000 applicants, only 1,000 businesses received funding, many at disproportionately high levels: 62% received at least $50,000, 127 businesses received $100,000 or more, and only 36 businesses received $20,000 or below.
Additionally, below are a handful of companies that received $100,000, fueling concerns that the prioritization of this funding was suspect:
- Businesses with employees largely outside of Florida;
- A spray tan product company that largely sells products online and has very few employees;
- A cosmetic plastic surgeon;
- A printer company that has been used repeatedly by the Republican Party of Florida;
- Christian Dance Studio, and a luxury jet seating company.
In response to these records, Accountable.US released the following statement on behalf of its president, Kyle Herrig:
“At a time when tens of thousands of small businesses in Florida are struggling to get by, state officials should be distributing emergency funding in a way that is efficient, fair, and does the most good for the most Floridians. These records indicate that has not been the case and we are calling on state officials to provide an explanation.”
Additional details on the records can be found here.