WASHINGTON, D.C. – As protests over police brutality and systemic racism in the U.S. justice system continue across the nation, a new analysis from government watchdog Accountable.US finds that nearly 40 different police-affiliated organizations have received as much as $15.8 million in COVID-19 relief aid from the Trump administration. At least sixteen law enforcement organizations received nearly $14 million from the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), the CARES Act program that was billed as a lifeline for struggling mom-and-pop businesses to weather the pandemic. The remainder of organizations were awarded money under the less prominent Economic Injury Disaster Loan program.
The police groups received taxpayer-backed aid after launching a $150,000 lobbying campaign for support during the COVID-19 pandemic. At least one-third of the dozen police organizations that received federal aid are primarily funded by membership dues and had reported no layoffs or furloughs as of July 2020, raising questions around their need for pandemic aid.
“Only the Trump administration would think of law enforcement as a small business,” said Kyle Herrig, president of Accountable.US, which has been monitoring CARES Act spending as part of its www.COVIDBailoutTracker.com project. “Under the administration’s poorly designed and managed PPP program, millions of tax dollars meant for struggling mom-and-pop shops went to private police organizations that don’t need the help — while aid was largely cut off from businesses in communities of color. Congress and the administration need to craft a new small business rescue package that actually helps those in need, not just the president’s wealthy friends and political allies.”
Trump’s PPP has been widely criticized for prioritizing taxpayer-funded aid for the wealthy and well-connected while tens of thousands of actual struggling small businesses were unable to access even a single dollar from the program — especially those in communities of color. A Fed report estimated a devastating 41% of Black-owned businesses were forced to close between February and April during the height of the crisis. And according to a recent analysis by Goldman Sachs, almost a third of Black small business owners report that “less than 25% of their pre-COVID revenue has returned.”
KEY FINDINGS FROM THE ANALYSIS:
- Police organizations in total got up to $15.8 million in small business relief funds in the wake of over $80,000 in campaign contributions from police to Trump and the RNC, and after a $150,000 lobbying campaign by police organizations for support during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The Southern States Police Benevolent Association took up to $2 million in PPP funds. They’re rewarding the administration with their endorsement in North Carolina today.
- The Atlanta Police Foundation took up to $350,000 under PPP in April 2020. Then, following the Atlanta police shooting death of Rayshard Brooks in June 2020, the foundation spent over $2 million paying out bonuses to “stem attrition and boost morale” as officers began to call out sick in “protest” of murder charges being filed against Brooks’ killer.
- The International Association of Chiefs of Police took up to $5 million in PPP funds. The organization bills itself as the “world’s largest and most influential professional association for police leaders” with “more than 31,000 members in over 165 countries.” President Trump has given remarks to the union at least twice during his presidency; in 2019, when he said the union president had been his “friend for a long time,” and the year prior, when he declared “for you guys, anything I can do, I’ll do.”