As of this morning, Susie Lee is the latest Democrat to come under fire for abusing the COVID relief programs to pad her personal bottom line.
Daily Beast reports today that Congresswoman Susie Lee’s husband took $5.6 million in COVID loans (for a company she owns millions of stock in) just weeks after Susie Lee lobbied the federal government to allow gaming companies like his to receive them. Meanwhile, countless other Nevada small businesses remained locked out of the program entirely.
In case you missed it…
Nevada Congresswoman Pushed for COVID Loans for Casinos. Her Husband Got Two.
The Daily Beast
This past April, a freshman Nevada congresswoman lobbied the federal government to expand coronavirus aid to her state’s gaming industry. Two weeks after the change went into effect, her husband’s casino company received millions of dollars in government-backed loans.
In a letter to the heads of the Treasury Department and Small Business Administration, Democrat Rep. Susie Lee urged the agencies tasked with administering the Paycheck Protection Program to reconsider regulatory language that excluded gaming companies from the program’s small business aid, which extended forgivable loans to help cover payroll and overhead costs amid the pandemic.
“Every day that passes without relief results in further harm to those businesses’ employees and their families,” Lee wrote. “For the SBA to take the position that these small businesses are not eligible for needed aid because of their involvement in the gaming industry belies the economic realities of their location and will doom countless small businesses in Nevada to bankruptcy.”
Within a couple weeks, federal regulators made the precise change she was seeking. In late April, Treasury and SBA updated their PPP eligibility guidelines to include businesses with fewer than 500 employees that derive more than half of their income from gaming.
“On further consideration,” SBA said, “the Administrator, in consultation with the Secretary, believes this approach is more consistent with the policy aim of making PPP loans available to a broad segment of US businesses.”
It was a major win for the casino industry and for the Nevada economy generally, which relies heavily not just on casinos but on other businesses that happen to house games such as slot machines. One Nevada-based gaming company that took advantage of the change to the PPP program was Full HouseResorts, a casino developer led by chief executive Daniel Lee, Rep. Lee’s husband.
About two weeks after the SBA made PPP loans available to gaming businesses, Full House secured two such loans totaling about $5.6 million, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The company said that the funds would “be used principally to rehire several hundred employees” and to prepare for the reopening of two of its casinos, neither of which were in Nevada: the Rising Star Casino Resort in Indiana and Bronco Billy’s Casino in Colorado.