The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans were established to help small businesses stay afloat during the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic. The primary goal was to keep employees on the books while the majority of the economy was shut down.
It has been revealed that two of the leading gun control groups in the nation – the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence and the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence – received PPP loans to support their employees, the Washington Free Beacon reported. The loans were granted after both organizations vowed to drop large sums of money supporting gun control candidates.
The Brady Political Action Committee (PAC) endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden in March. At that time, it pledged to spend $4 million to elect gun control candidates across the nation, including Biden. In mid-April, the Brady Center – the educational arm of the organization – received between $350,000 and $1 million to pay 41 employees.
Of course, the Brady Center defended its use of the PPP loan. According to spokesman Liam Sullivan, the Wuhan coronavirus forced the gun control group to cancel fundraising events, most notably its annual gala.
"Like other nonprofits, the Brady Center is funded by giving and fundraising events, both of which obviously have been impacted and will be impacted for the foreseeable future," Sullivan told the Free Beacon. "We just applied and were approved, obviously, under the same sort of criteria as others with concerns for payroll."
While the organization says there's a major difference between the Center and the PAC, it's not unusual for money to flow between the two, especially when staff members are shared. In April, the Brady PAC paid the Brady Campaign $50,000 for staff reimbursement and more than $2,200 in travel expenses. This isn't the first time money flowed from the PAC to the Campaign. In 2015, the Center owed the Campaign more than $1.1 million, ProPublica reported at the time.
Giffords' educational arm, Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, received a PPP loan between $150,000 and $350,000 at the end of April. The loan was used for the salary of 16 employees. Flash forward to last week, when the organization announced a cross country tour promoting senatorial candidates that support universal background checks. Although the organization didn't say exactly how much money it'll drop this election cycle, it said it planned to drop six-figures to garner online engagement for this tour.
A review of the Small Business Administration's records indicates no pro-gun organization took PPP loans, although records only reflect loans of $150,000 or more. According to the National Rifle Association and the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF), neither one took the loans.
In fact, SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan Gottlieb said the pro-gun group had to work overtime to make up for lost donations that took place because of the pandemic.
"SAF had to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars from contributors to file lawsuits during the coronavirus shutdowns to keep gun stores open as essential businesses so Americans could exercise their Second Amendment rights," Gottlieb said in a statement. "We didn't take a penny of taxpayer money, nor did we even apply, because that simply would not have been appropriate."
If organizations like Brady and Giffords have millions to spend on the 2020 election cycle, then they clearly have enough funds to pay their employees and stay afloat. They shouldn't be taking taxpayer funds – hard-earned money out of our pockets – to advocate for causes we don't agree with. Not only should they have to return the money, but they should be penalized for applying for the loans in the first place.