Michael Waltz, Republicans seek Democrats’ PPP loan probe

michael waltz
'False statements in connection with a PPP loan application may be a felony.'

Rep. Michael Waltz and five other Republican members of Congress are calling for a federal investigation into the Florida Democratic Party’s application and acceptance of a Paycheck Protection Program loan in the spring.

Waltz and the others wrote Thursday to the Inspector General of the U.S. Small Business Administration saying there may have been possible felony criminal activity in the Democrats’ application for the $780,000 loan.

The PPP loan went to the Florida Democratic Party Building Fund in April, then was routed through the Democratic Executive Committee of Florida to pay salaries of staff at the Florida Democratic Party.

Congress created the Paycheck Protection Program to help small businesses — not political parties — weather the economic collapse.

After a public and political backlash that included criticism from Florida Democrats, the Democratic Executive Committee of Florida refunded $780,000 to the lending bank in July.

But how did the building fund qualify for the loan in the first place, when it has no employees? Waltz and the other Republicans demand to know.

“The fact that FDP— which was ineligible for PPP funds — applied for the loan via the Florida Democratic Building Fund, Inc. and the money was subsequently transferred back to support FDP’s payroll raises questions as to whether someone at FDP knowingly made a false statement on the PPP application in question,” the letter reads.

“False statements in connection with a PPP loan application may be a felony,” the letter adds.

Florida Democratic Party’s response Friday: “The loan was returned in full. Now, with just over three weeks remaining until Election Day, we’re focused on electing Democrats who will get us out of this pandemic and protect our health care.”

Otherwise, the Florida Democratic Party has declined to release its loan application, or to offer any full explanation of how it was obtained when political parties were explicitly barred from receiving PPP funding.

The letter from Waltz and the other Republicans asks SBA Inspector General Hannibal “Mike” Ware to investigate the facts and circumstances of the PPP loan to FDP; to include whether the information on FDP’s loan application was false or misleading; to file a criminal referral to the U.S. Department of Justice for prosecution, if appropriate; and to provide a congressional briefing to detail finings from the investigation.

Besides Waltz, of St. Augustine Beach, the letter was signed by U.S. Reps. Bill Posey, Neal Dunn, Greg Steube, Ross Spano, and Brian Mast.

Scott Powers

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at [email protected].


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