The real estate investment firm founded by the multimillionaire husband of former Democratic senator Claire McCaskill took a Paycheck Protection Program loan worth up to $1 million, continuing its strategy of capitalizing on government programs to maximize profits.
Sugar Creek Realty, a St. Louis firm founded by Joseph Shepard, was one of thousands of companies to receive money from the small-business relief program, which was designed to help companies keep employees on the payroll during the coronavirus pandemic. The firm took between $350,000 and $1 million on April 6 that allowed it to keep 75 people employed, according to figures released by the Small Business Administration.
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The loan came just four days after McCaskill, a two-term Democratic senator from Missouri who was unseated in 2018, expressed doubt that the PPP would effectively get money to businesses in need.
"They need to get this figured out. Fast," McCaskill wrote on April 2, sharing an article on how it was "unrealistic" to believe the Trump administration would be able to dole out the billions in aid.
They need to get this figured out. Fast.
Banks warn of chaotic launch of small business lending program https://t.co/zjKtNTMeWU
— Claire McCaskill (@clairecmc) April 2, 2020
McCaskill, an MSNBC political commentator, had also argued that firms like her husband's should not be the ones receiving aid money from the government. In late March she said on MSNBC that the program should "focus on the workers, not focus on big corporations."
"I feel personally about this," McCaskill said during an interview with Brian Williams. "I spent years waiting tables, and I understand what this means to millions of Americans just in the restaurant and bar industry to say nothing of all the other small businesses that are travel-related, tourist-related, that are going to shrivel up if we do not get help to them first. Let's focus on the workers, not focus on big corporations."
Sugar Creek Realty, a firm that specializes in profiting from government affordable housing programs, turned out to be one of the first firms to get a loan. The company did not respond to numerous inquiries into how the coronavirus pandemic impacted its business and what the funds were used for.
McCaskill was forced to answer for Shepard's business dealings during her failed 2018 reelection campaign after reports emerged that the firm made millions of dollars by selling Low-Income Housing Tax Credits to high-earners looking for a tax break. The company received more than $131 million in federal subsidies while McCaskill was in the U.S. Senate.
Though McCaskill kept her finances separate from Shepard and the two filed taxes separately, she was known to use his private jet on the campaign trail in Missouri.