In key US Senate race, Susan Collins’ attack on rival over COVID program is partly correct
Susan Collins, considered one of America’s most vulnerable senators heading for re-election on November 3, says her opponent is guilty of hypocrisy in connection with the federal payment protection program’s response to COVID-19.
Maine Repubican’s challenger is Democrat Sara Gideon.
Gideon’s husband’s law firm “took up to $ 2 million” from the paycheck protection program, a Collins Announcement claims, the same program she “falsely” attacked Collins on.
“This is hypocrisy,” said the narrator after making the two-part statement in the ad.
It’s similar to a Republican attack on Democrats that we verified by the facts in another key Senate race in Arizona.
In this case, the $ 2 million part is correct, but the “falsely attacked” part is not.
Potentially pivotal race
With polls showing tight competition – the Cook Political Report rated the race as a toss in the air – Federal business assistance programs have become a hotbed of attack from both sides.
How PPP Works
Congress created the Paycheque Protection Program to help small businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic avoid layoffs. The program was established by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, enacted in March by President Donald Trump.
The law provides up to $ 659 billion in loans for businesses so that they can pay their employees and cover certain other expenses, such as rent and utilities. Loans are canceled if companies meet specified terms.
While the federal government created and administers the program, banks, credit unions and other lending institutions handle loan applications and the disbursement of funds.
Collins’ ad launched on Facebook on August 1. According to Facebook, she was seen 175,000 to 200,000 times.
Wayne Parry, who is identified as a Maine lobster in the ad, appears and recounts the 30 seconds room. As the summer reportedParry also served four terms as a Republican state representative, backed by campaign donations from a Collins Political Action Committee, and is currently running for his former seat.
The first claim in the ad concerns a PPP loan of “up to $ 2 million” to the law firm of Gideon’s husband, a personal injury lawyer Benjamin Gideon.
Berman & Simmons, a Lewiston law firm where Benjamin Gideon is a partner, received a PPP ready between $ 1 and $ 2 million, according to data from the Small Business Administration. The loan came from a bank in Lewiston. The firm did not respond to our request for the exact amount of the loan it received.
Gideon’s campaign spokeswoman Maeve Coyle said Benjamin Gideon was one of the company’s 11 partners and was not involved in the pursuit of PPP money. She said 43 of the 61 firm employees are not lawyers, and almost all law firms in Maine have taken out PPP loans because the pandemic has closed the courts.
Most major Maine law firms have turned to PPP for help, Associated Press reported.
“Falsely Collins attack”
Collins’ announcement indicates that Gideon’s criticisms include a fake attack on Collins about the program. He quotes a June 15 item by the Washington Post Fact Checker, which called a Gideon attack ad “very misleading.” Still, some of the facts behind Gideon’s attack are literally correct, as new reports from ProPublica show.
The announcement Gideon said: “As the coronavirus spreads, Susan Collins has taken $ 12,000 from the corporate hotel industry. Then Collins wrote a special loophole in her bill allowing large hotels to l out of state to get millions – when only one in 10 small businesses in Maine were getting the help they needed. “
We found that Collins raised a total of $ 12,500 in donations in February through political actions from the hospitality industry. His campaign committee received $ 2,500 the International Franchise Association; $ 2,500 from Hilton Worldwide; and $ 2,500 of American Lodging and Hotel. And the American Lodging and Hotel PAC donated $ 5,000 to the leadership of the Collins PAC.
As for the schedule, in mid-February, the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had confirmed 15 coronavirus cases in the United States. Collins and other senators began drafting the PPP bill in early March, his campaign spokesperson Kevin Kelley said.
As reported On August 6 by ProPublica, a Pulitzer Prize-winning nonprofit newsroom, Collins’ office said it was contacted during the writing process by the International Franchise Association and the American Hotel and Lodging Association, among others. business interests, and eventually an exception was written into the legislation for restaurant and hotel chains. Collins took credit for the exception, which allowed these companies to apply with up to 500 employees per site, although they were much larger overall.
At least 59 major hotel companies have been approved for more than 600 repayable public loans totaling up to $ 1 billion despite more than 500 total employees, according to ProPublica.
In a review item she wrote, Collins called ProPublica “a left-wing outlet funded by Democratic billionaires.” She defended the exception, saying it made a franchisee hotel owner eligible “in an effort to help keep the business afloat and its employed workers,” but that a large corporate chain such as Hilton “is prohibited from receiving a PPP loan for its head office or any hotels it owns and operates directly.
On Gideon’s claim that at the time, only one in 10 small businesses in Maine got the PPP conditional loans, the Bangor Daily News reported this statistic in mid-April, indicating that 16,000 small businesses in Maine had received assistance. It was at a time when the first batch of PPP funds had run out.
Federal figures show that as of August 8, more than 28,000 PPP loans have been made in Maine. So Gideon’s count came from the initial reports which then increased.
Overall, we found Gideon’s attack on Collins to be a mixture of exaggeration and precision.
Collins claimed that Gideon’s husband’s law firm “took up to $ 2 million” from the same federal program for which she “falsely” attacked Susan Collins.
The law firm where Gideon’s husband is a partner has taken out a loan under the federal payment protection program that could reach $ 2 million. With less than 500 employees, the company is considered a small business according to the guidelines of the program. But Gideon’s attack on Collins is largely accurate.
As Gideon claimed in an advertisement, after Collins received campaign contributions from the hospitality industry, she wrote an exception to the PPP law which, according to a ProPublica investigation, allowed at least 59 large companies hotel companies to be approved for more than 600 repayable public loans. totaling up to $ 1 billion.
We rate Collins’ statement as half-true.