A federal judge on Thursday ordered the Small Business Administration to release details of loans related to the corona virus infection, which will include information on businesses that have benefited from $ 717 billion in federal support loans.
The judge ordered the release of all the names, addresses and exact loan amounts provided by the payroll protection plan and the emergency injury disaster loan plan. The decision comes after a lawsuit was filed by a dozen news organizations accusing the company of failing to meet its obligations under the Freedom of Information Act.
SBA previously released only brief and anonymous data for loans of less than $ 150,000 – which includes about 4.5 million of the 5.2 million loans – claiming they violate the privacy of borrowers by disclosing the size of the payroll.
When the SBA denied FOIA requests from news organizations, it argued that the publication of government credit information should keep business and personal information private.
Federal Judge James Bosberg said in his ruling that “the significant public interest in shedding light on the SBA management of the PPP and EITL program is dramatically greater than any apparent private interest.” The judge dismissed the SBA’s claim that the amount of debt reflected a company’s salary, which it said was “fundamentally flawed”.
He noted that “the PPP loan application publicly stated that their names and loan amounts would be ‘automatically released’ to potential borrowers – in the form of a denial of the loan,” and criticized the company for “continuously presenting a series of arguments. What the loan-application forms actually said.” Reduce the argument that the agency does not mean that. “
The SBA has no comment, company spokesman Jim Pillimoria said in an email to NBC News. The Justice Department, which represents the company in the case, did not respond to requests for comment or whether the Trump administration plans to appeal the ruling.
“In response to the unprecedented challenges facing small businesses this year, the Trump administration has provided more than three-quarters of a trillion dollars in financial assistance in support of affected small businesses,” SBA executive Jovita Corranza said in a recent release. The data further reflect the extraordinary commitment this administration has made in supporting entrepreneurs in lesser communities. ”
Nearly 30 percent of PPP loans were made to low- and middle-income communities, and more than 15 percent were approved for rural communities, the company said.
Government monitoring committees welcomed the release and promised to begin examining the data once released.
“From the beginning, the Trump administration did everything in its power To cover up PPP borrowers, ” Jeremy Funk, spokeswoman for the progressive government watchdog Accountable.us, told NBC News in an email. “Once the administration has complied with the court order and released all the data, we will see if more Trump executives and family members – and other well-known individuals – have borrowed than previously known.”
The data was released following an FOIA request filed by 11 news organizations, including NBC News, The Washington Post and The New York Times. The investigative journal based was integrated with a separate lawsuit filed by the Nonprofit Public Integrity Center.
News agencies cut back on limited data released in July Loans to those associated with the Trump administration And how Black-owned businesses had more difficulty getting SBA assistance.