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Trump’s Waikiki partner, DeVos-tied firm among PPP borrowers

Companies associated with President Donald Trump and members of his administration were among recipients of small-business Covid loans, newly released data show.

Irongate Azrep Bw LLC, Trump’s business partner in a hotel and residential tower in Waikiki received a loan from the Paycheck Protection Program in the range of $2 million to $5 million, according to the data released today, which shows loan ranges. Calls to Trump Waikiki weren’t returned.

Trump International Hotel & Tower at Waikiki isn’t owned by Trump or his company, according to its website. Irongate uses the Trump name under license from Trump Marks Waikiki LLC, which is owned by Trump.

Companies controlled by Trump, heads of his departments and their families were barred from receiving bailout money from some programs authorized by the CARES Act, which created coronavirus relief facilities earlier this year. But Congress exempted the PPP from those provisions.

Also, in administering the program, the Small Business Administration waived ethics rules that otherwise would have required certain officials to seek approval from the agency’s Standards of Conduct Committee if they sought aid for a company in which they or a “household member” were an owner, officer, director or shareholder with at least a 10% stake.

Companies that appear to match those associated with two Trump cabinet officials also received PPP loans. A company with a name matching one listed on the 2017 financial disclosure of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos received at least $6 million, the data show. The loans were made to Renaissance Acquisition Company LLC, which operates Indianapolis-based RenPSG, a provider of services to nonprofits.

A spokesman for the Education Department declined to comment about DeVos’s finances. RenPSG didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Perdue Inc., a Bonaire, Georgia-based trucking company founded by Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, received a PPP loan of between $150,000 and $350,000. When Perdue joined the government in 2017, he disclosed $598,591 of passive ownership income from the company. That year, he signed a government ethics agreement in which he resigned from business roles and restructured family trusts. An Agriculture Department spokeswoman didn’t respond to a request for comment.

The law firm of one of Trump’s top lawyers, Marc Kasowitz, also appears to have received a PPP loan, according to the SBA data. Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP received between $5 million and $10 million to retain 402 jobs, the data show. Kasowitz represented Trump before he became president in a wide range of lawsuits over a period of 15 years, according to the firm’s website. In 2017, after Special Counsel Robert Mueller was appointed to investigate Russian attempts to interfere with the election, Kasowitz helped coordinate the president’s first responses to the probe. Kasowitz didn’t immediately respond to email and phone requests for comment.

Forgivable loans financed by the federal government also benefited a media company run by Trump’s longtime friend David Pecker. American Media, the publisher of the National Enquirer, received a loan in April from Bank of America Corp. of between $2 million and $5 million, records show.

American Media is owned by Chatham Asset Management, a New Jersey-based hedge fund that oversees about $4 billion. Hedge funds are prohibited from receiving PPP loans, but businesses they own are eligible for the funds.

“American Media made the decision to apply for PPP support in an effort to secure jobs that might have been lost as we and other publishers continue to navigate the current economic climate created by the Covid-19 pandemic,” Jon Hammond, a spokesman for the company, said. A spokesman for Chatham declined to comment.

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