With just a few months left for the November 8 American elections, Speaker of the House of Representatives in the US Congress, Nancy Pelosi, finds herself in a major controversy. It has come to light that a firm called EDI Associates, which has invested in a California-based hotel, received a loan in the range of $350,000-$1,000,000 from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).
PPP is meant to provide financial assistance to businesses adversely affected by the disruptions due to the Coronavirus outbreak. Now, EDI Associates has, among its shareholders, Paul Pelosi, husband of Nancy Pelosi.
The fact that CARES Act, worth $2 trillion, of which PPP, a $669 billion program, is part, was sanctioned by the Congress and the Speaker had played a key role in getting it passed makes this loan a matter of controversy.
Defence of Pelosi
As of now, the Pelosi camp, represented by its spokesman Drew Hammill, is defending the Democratic Party's senior leader by stating that her husband is "a minor, passive investor in this company. He was not involved in or even aware of this PPP loan."
In a list of companies benefitting from the PPP scheme released by Treasury Department and Small Business Administration on Monday, names of companies linked to many other Congressmen have turned up. Mike Kelly, Markwayne Mullin, Kevin Hern, Rick Allen, all Republican members of the House are linked to businesses who have availed of loans from the financial assistance scheme.
Hoist by Her Own Petard
But the case of Paul Pelosi merits special attention and is bound to be in the spotlight much more. The Speaker had herself demanded that the names of all firms coming under the benevolent umbrella of PPP should be made known to the public. In fact, she criticised the lack of transparency on the part of President Donald Trump's administration.
"The Trump administration's concealment of PPP loan data was a disturbing sign of its complete indifference to ensuring that Paycheck Protection Program funds go first and foremost to the most vulnerable small businesses on Main Street.
"Its reversal is an overdue step toward securing the transparency needed to ensure struggling small businesses, particularly minority, women and veteran-owned businesses, are getting the vital assistance they need to survive and retain their workers," Pelosi had stated on June 20.
With US politics sharply polarized and election campaigns in full swing, Speaker Pelosi will have to field some uncomfortable questions in the near future.