Remember Gordon Sondland? Of course you do, from back in the before time when the national crisis was impeachment. He’s the now-former ambassador to the European Union, who got that cushy job by being a big donor to Donald Trump's inaugural committee. Trump might have fired him from that sweet gig, but that doesn't mean Sondland's out of the money loop with Republicans at all. Because guess who got some of that "small business" coronavirus emergency loan money?
Provenance Hotels, the hotel chain Sondland owns, got some of that loan money according to a spokeswoman, along with some very wealthy, very connected to Republican lawmaker hoteliers. How much Sondland landed isn't clear, but the company spokesperson told the Portland Business Journal: "Now that we have been approved for our SBA PPP loan, we hope to bring back a significant portion of those employees and retain them for as long as possible." Let's certainly hope so. Not all business are doing so, figuring the terms of the loans are so good that it doesn't matter if they flout the rules and spend the money on other costs.
One of the biggest winners was Dallas hotel executive Monty Bennett, also a Trump major donor. He got a combined $59 million for three of his companies—Braemar Hotels & Resorts, which operates a Ritz-Carlton in St. Thomas; Ashford Hospitality Trust Inc., which operates 100 or so hotel properties around the country; and finally the management firm that oversees both chains. Bennett's given Trump $150,000 just in the last six months, and was rewarded nicely. Ashford’s group said in a statement that the loan program "is working exactly as intended by providing much needed capital to small businesses and larger businesses that have been the hardest hit—hotels and restaurants." The Bloomberg article doesn't say whether Ashford also claimed to be retaining its employees.
It does, however, report that Ashford expects to get more loans on top of the $30 million it got in the first round. If Bennett is spending all that money on keeping his 1,000 or so employees paid, great—keeping people afloat right now is the main thing.
But when this is all over? There had better damned well be a wealth tax that claws this money back.
Published with permission of Daily Kos