A business owned by Rep. Webster Barnaby received more than $33,000 in a pandemic-related loan program. Now, that full total has been forgiven.
While many businesses struggle to have Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans forgiven, that’s not a problem for Barnaby’s company, Selling Connections Unlimited. As of Aug. 9, a $33,542 PPP loan, plus interest, was forgiven, according to a database maintained by ProPublica. The company is listed by ProPublica as having two employees.
Selling Connections Unlimited, which Barnaby founded in 2011, remains in business in Deltona. His financial disclosure as a member of the House, filed last June, reports an income for Barnaby of $139,452. That’s his only income in 2020 besides the salary he earned as a Representative during the last two months of the year.
In his official lawmaker biography, the Deltona Republican lists his occupation as president of a limited liability corporation, which describes Selling Connections Unlimited.
The business lists Barnaby’s home address as its principal place of business in an annual report filed with the state.
Barnaby is currently running for re-election against fellow Rep. Elizabeth Fetterhoff in House District 29. The two Republican lawmakers now represent neighboring House districts, but redistricting plans put them in the same jurisdiction. They are the only state Representatives paired by redistricting who intend to run against one another. In all other potential matchups, at least one lawmaker has moved to a new district to run.
Barnaby’s loan was forgiven even as many business owners complain their loans have not been. That’s become a major issue in heavily minority-populated areas like South Florida. U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, a Miami Republican and one of the chief legislative architects of the PPP program, recently sent a letter to the Small Business Administration demanding answers on a backlog of complaints about low forgiveness rates.
“Of further concern, the most recent data available shows that businesses in zip codes that are majority Black or Hispanic, including in Miami-Dade, Broward, and Osceola counties in Florida, had some of the lowest 2020 PPP loan forgiveness rates in the country,” Rubio wrote. “For an administration that has pledged to make racial equity a central plank of its agenda, these numbers suggest a remarkable lack of responsiveness to underserved communities.”
The fact the loans were 100% forgivable was a major selling point for the loans, which were intended to allow employers to continue paying employees during COVID-19 lockdowns.
Florida Politics has reached out to Barnaby for comment and will update this post with his response.