BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A high-ranking Idaho elected official who has spoken out against using federal money to help people through the economic pain caused by the pandemic received more than $300,000 from a federal coronavirus relief program to aid a business she owns.
Republican Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin accepted $314,727 under the Paycheck Protection Program, according to information released by the federal government.
The two loans were received by her Idaho Falls-based wholesale transmission-parts business, Idaho Transmission Warehouse.
The Paycheck Protection Program is part of a $2 trillion coronavirus aid package passed by Congress in March. Loan recipients included companies as varied as restaurants, dental offices, retailers, construction companies and manufacturers that were devastated by the virus and shutdown orders that state and local governments issued in hopes of containing it. Nonprofit organizations were also eligible.
The program aimed to motivate small businesses to retain their employees or, if they had laid them off, get them back to work. The primary incentive for companies to seek PPP loans was the offer of partial forgiveness if most of the money was used for payroll.
The Small Business Administration said the loans involving McGeachin’s business protected 35 jobs.
“Like many business owners, our family businesses have been harmed significantly by the heavy hand of government in 2020,” McGeachin said in a statement this week. “In order to keep as many of our employees on staff as possible, we took advantage of the partial restitution made available through the PPP.”
McGeachin wrote a column that appeared in the Post Register in July in which she decried federal spending during the pandemic.
“The solution to difficult times is not to increase the size, scope and spending of government, but to decrease these things and to put our resources in the hands of the private sector where they can grow and prosper,” she wrote.
Other Idaho lawmakers getting loans for their businesses through the program include Republican Rep. Joe Palmer, who received $10,300 in loans for his consignment store. Republican Sen. Mary Souza received $66,900 for her event-planning business, and Republican Rep. Mike Moyle, Idaho House majority leader, received $10,000 in a grant administered by the state.
The libertarian nonprofit Idaho Freedom Foundation, which typically opposes government handouts and scores Idaho lawmakers on their fiscal conservatism, received just under $130,000 from the program.