A company cofounded by Democratic Senate candidate Mark Kelly received Paycheck Protection Program funds after the candidate criticized the program.
A July 7 report by the Arizona Republic found that according to federal records, World View Enterprises took between $1 million and $2 million in PPP cash to preserve 38 jobs and return 17 employees from furlough. Arizona Democratic Senate candidate Mark Kelly, who cofounded the firm and remains an investor in it, previously criticized the program as being beholden to "big banks."
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The Tucson-based company specializes in manufacturing balloons and other equipment for low-altitude satellites. Mark Kelly—a former astronaut—cofounded it and acted as a strategic adviser, but resigned in February 2019 to challenge Senator Martha McSally (R., Ariz.) for her seat.
"Mark has not applied for any PPP loans. Mark left World View well over a year ago so he didn't know about this loan or have any role in seeking it," said Kelly's spokesman Jacob Peters.
The Democratic senatorial candidate roundly criticized the PPP program that gave his former company assistance.
"Congress created this program and put much of the application process in the hands of big banks, and they have to provide accountability and make sure this money is getting to those small business owners and their employees who need it," Kelly's campaign stated in April.
McSally campaign manager Dylan Lefler pushed back on Kelly’s statement. "Mark Kelly tried to score cheap political points by criticizing the bipartisan success of PPP while quietly taking the money for his own large corporation," he said. "Mark Kelly’s company has a history of taking taxpayer money and failing to provide the promised jobs. PPP was meant to help Arizonans keep their jobs, not line Mark Kelly’s pockets."
Kelly's track record at World View has received prior scrutiny. One of the initial investors in the company was Tencent, a Chinese state-backed technology company. Tencent has faced accusations of espionage and pro-regime censorship.
Kelly also sat on the board of Colorado-based aerospace Boom Technologies, which partnered with Shanghai-based firm Trip.com Group Limited. Formerly known as Ctrip, the Chinese firm's business plan strives to "bring supersonic flight to China" while also supporting China’s "Belt and Road" initiative—an infrastructure project which the U.S. government describes as a security threat.