Forgiven PPP loans were paid for by taxpayers, many of whom did not take out loans themselves.”
A new report from the Clarion Ledger details how Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves, who has been mired in scandal, has had hundreds of thousands of dollars in PPP loans forgiven despite railing against the Biden administration’s student loan forgiveness program. See more below.
Clarion Ledger: Companies tied to MS Gov. Reeves had loans forgiven. But he opposes forgiving student loans
Wicker Perlis | 7/16/23
- Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves long voiced opposition to President Joe Biden’s now-defeated plan to forgive $10,000 in student loan debts for most federal borrowers. Meanwhile, businesses with close ties to the first-term Republican have had more than half a million dollars in federal loans forgiven in recent years.
- Reeves, who in 2022 called student forgiveness “unfair and unwise,” repeated those criticisms again after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Biden’s forgiveness plan.
- “There is absolutely no reason that Mississippians without college degrees or who paid off their debt should be forced to pay off the student loans of others,” Reeves said on Twitter after the Supreme Court decision. “It is utterly absurd and incredibly unfair to punish the blue collar electrician or plumber, or any individual who worked hard to pay off his debt, so that Joe Biden can effectively bribe voters with our tax dollars.”
- Yet, a company that Reeves is a co-owner of and another that employs his wife, First Lady Elee Reeves, benefited greatly from loan forgiveness under the pandemic-era Paycheck Protection Program.
- PPP loans were meant to keep employees on payrolls as businesses were closed in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the Clarion Ledger’s PPP loan database, which pulls data from the Small Business Administration, which administered the loans, businesses with direct ties to the Reeves family were among the borrowers.
- Southern Air Conditioning Supply Inc., of Pearl, received $189,600 from the federal government. Southern Air Conditioning Supply is owned and operated by Reeves’ father, Terry Reeves. The business reported having 17 employees at the time the loan was filed. Staffers have said the governor has no day-to-day role with the company, but as of the governor’s most recent statement of economic interest with the Mississippi Ethics Commission the younger Reeves continues to list himself as an “owner.” Southern Air Conditioning Supply had its full loan forgiven, including interest, to a total of $191,216.87.
- Coker and Palmer LLC, a Jackson based financial firm where Elee Reeves is a financial advisor, received $344,010 from the federal government. The business reported having 21 employees at the time the loan was filed. When news of the loans were first reported by the Associated Press in 2020, a Reeves spokesperson said the governor was not aware Coker and Palmer had been selected for a loan. Reeves also lists Coker and Palmer on his statement of economic interest, as his spouse’s employer. Coker and Palmer also had its full loan forgiven, including interest, to a total of $346,255.62.
- Between the two companies, with interest, more than $547,000 was forgiven.
- A spokesperson for Reeves did not respond to requests for comment for this story. When former Reeves spokesperson Parker Briden was asked about the loans by the Associated Press in 2020, before any loans had been forgiven, he said the governor supported the program.
- “It worked as intended to keep many Mississippians employed through this crisis,” Briden said. “Obviously he had no role in creating or implementing it, but is glad that it has helped so many.”
- Briden also said the first lady “is her own woman, and has a career with a respected Mississippi business,” that has nothing to do with her husband’s position.
- For many proponents of PPP who are opposed to student loan forgiveness, that distinction explains their positions. Reeves too, in the past, has made a distinction between forgivable loan programs and after-the-fact loan forgiveness. In a 2022 news conference, Reeves fielded questions on a state forgivable loan program related to healthcare, which Reeves said differed from things like student loan forgiveness.
- “I think there’s a real distinction to be made here, and that is the public policy decision made on the front end to incentivize and then ultimately reward those who are making these decisions versus just writing off debt for the purpose of writing it off,” Reeves said.
- Reeves’ statements about student loans, however, seem to go beyond that, questioning whether non-borrowers should ever have to pay off borrowers’ debts.
- “Mississippians without college degrees (or who paid off their debt) should not be forced to pay for the student loans of others. Why should people who chose not to go to college or chose to settle their own loans be punished for the benefit of those who made different decisions?” Reeves said last year on Twitter. “The student loan machine is predatory. It should be held accountable. But this is a fundamentally unfair and unwise way for the Biden administration to do it.”
- Forgiven PPP loans were paid for by taxpayers, many of whom did not take out loans themselves.
Published: Jul 21, 2023
Last Modified: Jul 25, 2023