Cunningham Convinces Wealthy Homeowners to Return $1 Million SBA Loan
WASHINGTON – A wealthy homeowners association on exclusive Kiawah Island in South Carolina is returning a $1 million federal loan intended to help small businesses and nonprofits after being taken to task by Rep. Joe Cunningham, D-S.C.
Cunningham, who is in his first term representing South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District, said it was inappropriate for the Kiawah Island Community Association to take the loan while small businesses across the country were struggling to secure funding through the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program.
The association’s acceptance of the federal loan was first revealed by the Post and Courier newspaper in Charleston, S.C. earlier this week.
In the same story, the newspaper also noted that the association had more than $13.6 million in its bank accounts at the end of last year, and had access to a $2.5 million low-interest line of credit.
The Paycheck Protection Program was created as part of Congress’s $2.2 trillion economic relief package in March, and quickly ran out of money due to the extraordinary demand for relief in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.
Congress added an additional $360 million to the program’s coffers in mid-April.
After reading the Post and Courier story, Cunningham, who represents the island’s residents, released a statement in which he said he was “incredibly disappointed” the association “took advantage of a program that was designed to offer a lifeline to struggling small businesses.”
“When Congress approved spending billions of dollars of taxpayer money to help small businesses and their workers survive this crisis, it wasn’t meant for giant corporations with deep pockets or wealthy community associations with millions of dollars in reserve funds,” he added.
Hours after Cunningham’s rebuke, the association’s board voted to send the loan back to the federal government.
In an email to association members, Diana Mezzanotte, the organization’s chairwoman said, “As a community we will survive without the Payroll Protection Loan.”
“Therefore, today the board voted to return the loan because we understand that our sacrifices will be significantly less than small business owners who are struggling to survive,” she said.
In her email, Mezzanotte said the association, which operates as a nonprofit, applied for the funding because it expects to see its revenues from gate fees and property transfers sharply decline this year.
She went on to explain that the association’s reserve funds are intended to pay for maintenance and infrastructure projects “and are not used for ordinary operating expenses and any spending from those reserves will have to be repaid in the future.”
Nevertheless, Mezzanotte apologized to the association’s members, saying the association board regrets “the negative attention this has brought to Kiawah Island.”
As for Cunningham, he took to Twitter to say he was glad to see the Kiawah Island Community Association return the $1 million loan.
“Now this money can go to Lowcountry small businesses and workers who really need the relief,” he said.
In The News
WASHINGTON - Republican House members handily elected Rep. Elise Stefanik, of New York, to the number three post in their conference leadership Friday, hoping her elevation will end an intra-party feud between allies of former President Donald Trump and his GOP detractors. With little suspense, Stefanik... Read More
WASHINGTON - A House panel reached a bipartisan agreement Friday on legislation that will establish a 9/11-style commission to review events surrounding the Jan. 6 siege on the U.S. Capitol. The deal reached by the House Homeland Security Committee means a vote on the Jan. 6... Read More
WASHINGTON -- Incidents the past few days in New York City demonstrate why a congressional subcommittee met Thursday to discuss “a national mental health crisis.” Last week, an emotionally disturbed man barricaded himself in a subway motorman’s car, shutting down train service on the rail line... Read More
WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans are ready to vault Rep. Elise Stefanik into the ranks of House leadership, with the party hoping to turn the page from its searing civil war over the deposed Rep. Liz Cheney and refocus on winning control of the chamber in next... Read More
WASHINGTON (AP) — A House hearing about what went wrong in the Jan. 6 Capitol siege frequently spiraled into partisan shouting matches on Wednesday, with lawmakers more often blaming each other than thoroughly questioning witnesses about the events of the day. Democrats and Republicans have so... Read More
CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — For pro-Trump Republicans, removing Rep. Liz Cheney from House GOP leadership was relatively easy. Booting her from office will be another matter. The rush to punish Cheney for her criticism of former President Donald Trump and his loyalists is drawing a cast... Read More