The Paycheck Safety Program’s free guidelines allowed just about any small enterprise or firm in America to qualify for a government-backed reduction mortgage. Residents and activist teams have criticized 1000’s of recipients that they deemed unworthy, together with rich legal professionals, politicians and political lobbyists, publicly traded firms and businesses under government investigation.
Now, an advocacy group that fights on-line misinformation is drawing consideration to a bunch of mortgage recipients it finds troubling: anti-vaccine activists.
Six organizations which have challenged the security of vaccines and made claims that scientists have referred to as false obtained loans that collectively added as much as greater than $1.1 million, in accordance with information from the Small Enterprise Administration, which manages this system. (The info was released last month under a court order, in response to a lawsuit filed by The New York Instances and different information organizations.)
The teams that obtained the loans are Youngsters’s Well being Protection, founded by Robert F. Kennedy Jr.; the Knowledgeable Consent Motion Community; the Nationwide Vaccine Info Heart; Mercola.com Well being Sources and Mercola Consulting Providers, each affiliated with the distinguished vaccine skeptic Joseph Mercola; and the Tenpenny Integrative Medical Heart, a medical observe run by Dr. Sherri Tenpenny, a doctor and creator who opposes vaccines.
The loans, which had been made by banks and backed by the federal government, ranged in dimension from $72,500 to Dr. Tenpenny’s medical middle to $335,000 to Mercola.com. They don’t seem to violate Small Enterprise Administration guidelines: P.P.P. loans had been extensively accessible to any small firm or nonprofit (usually these with 500 or fewer staff) prepared to certify that “present financial uncertainty makes this mortgage request mandatory” to help their persevering with operations.
The Heart for Countering Digital Hate, a London-based advocacy group, uncovered the loans and alerted The Washington Put up, which first reported on them. Imran Ahmed, the group’s chief govt, referred to as it “bananas” that such teams had been eligible for taxpayer-funded reduction cash.
“There’s an anomaly right here,” Mr. Ahmed stated. “The P.P.P. was wanted to cope with the financial shock of Covid, and the anti-vaxxers basically inhibit our potential to defeat Covid and transfer previous this.”
Barbara Loe Fisher, the president of the Nationwide Vaccine Info Heart in Sterling, Va., stated by electronic mail that her group utilized for the mortgage “when it grew to become obvious that lockdowns and social distancing restrictions instantly threatened the job safety of plenty of our staff and jeopardized continued rental of our Virginia headquarters workplace.” The group used the mortgage to retain all of its 21 staff, she stated.
Ms. Fisher disputed the notion that her group is anti-vaccine. The group “doesn’t make vaccine use suggestions and encourages everybody to develop into totally knowledgeable in regards to the dangers and problems of infectious illnesses and vaccines,” she stated.
The Paycheck Safety Program distributed $523 billion to greater than 5 million small firms from April to August to assist them endure the shutdowns and different financial shocks brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. As long as recipients use a lot of the cash to pay their staff and adjust to different guidelines, the loans are eligible to be totally forgiven and paid off by the U.S. authorities.