Two businesses received millions of dollars in government loans to help coronaviruses, as a group of lobbyists advocating for Trump worked actively on their behalf.
Lindblad Expeditions and Laundrylux Distribution, which hired lobbyists Jeff Miller and Brian Ballard, both of whom have close ties to President Donald Trump, received millions of dollars in loans, according to an incomplete list of small businesses that took part in the administration’s payroll program. ,
A Laundrylux spokesman denied any connection between Ballard lobbying and the loan.
The Ministry of Finance and the small business administration published on Monday a list of companies that received federal assistance.
Lindblad is a New York cruise company with destinations such as Alaska, Costa Rica, Egypt and the British Isles. He received from 5 to 10 million US dollars in the form of loans. Laundrylux, a New York-based commercial washing machine company whose services include equipment rental and marketing tools for laundries, received loans of between $ 1 and $ 2 million.
Trump-related law firms also received loans from the federal aid program. Casovitz Benson Torres, founded by Trump’s longtime lawyer Mark Kasowitz, received a loan of between $ 5 and $ 10 million. The American Law and Justice Center, whose main lawyer is Trump’s lawyer Jay Seculow, received between $ 1 and $ 2 million. The firm Kasovitsa and Seculov defended Trump during a presidential impeachment hearing.
According to the lobbying report, the laundry room paid $ 30,000 to Ballard, Ballard Partners, in the first quarter of 2020, for the Trump administration to “identify itself as a critical business in response to the COVID-19 virus.” the document says. Major businesses were often allowed to remain open during the outbreak of a pandemic, while many that were considered inconsequential were forced to close.
The form shows that Ballard, a lobbyist who recently raised more than $ 560,000 for the Trump Victory joint fundraising committee, worked with Daniel McFaul, a partner at the firm, to work with representatives of the Homeland Security Department and the White House. Ballard is the regional vice chairman of the Republican National Committee. Laundrylux later announced his site that the Department of Homeland Security has recognized that self-service laundries and similar services are needed.
Miller’s firm, Miller Strategies, helped Lindblad “solve the problems associated with the impact of COVID-19 on the cruise and tourism industry.” Miller was chairman of the California campaign for the post of president of former Secretary of Energy Rick Perry in 2012. He recently became vice chairman of finance for the 2020 Republican Convention. He recently helped raise $ 1.4 million to defeat Trump.
Sven-Olof Lindblad, CEO of the cruise company, wrote in an article in may that they returned the loan after gaining wide control.
The cruise industry was hit hard after the pandemic. FactSet data shows that on many cruise cruises, from Carnival to Norwegian, financial results for the first quarter fell by 81%.
Neil Milch, executive chairman and owner of Laundrylux, told CNBC in an unannounced email that lobbying efforts weren’t related to the loan they received. Milch held out his hand after CNBC contacted Ballard’s firm.
“Our statement on PPPs had nothing to do with Ballard’s idea of us and our industry. We were worried that millions of people who rely entirely on washing machines to clean clothes will have serious problems if they are all closed, ”Mitch said. “This is March / April. We NEVER consulted with Ballard about PPPs; had nothing to do with them. ”
Ballard spokesman declined to comment. Miller and Lindblad spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment. The Treasury and SBA did not respond to requests for comment.
The lobbying efforts undertaken by Ballard, Miller and their teams for these companies were only part of the work they did when the pandemic swept across the country.
Data from non-partisan Responsive Policy Center shows that from January to March, Ballard’s firm earned more than $ 5.2 million, which was their largest first quarter ever.
Miller’s firm was also successful earlier this year. The data shows that they earned at least $ 2.7 million in the first quarter, more than in any other quarter since 2017.