White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany's parents received at least $1 million in relief funds

McEnany said PPP loans were designed to help companies with 10 employees or less. Her family said it employs 141

Published July 9, 2020 2:17PM (EDT)

Donald Trump and Kayleigh McEnany (Photo illustration by Salon/Brendan Smialowsk/Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Donald Trump and Kayleigh McEnany (Photo illustration by Salon/Brendan Smialowsk/Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

A company run by White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany's parents received at least $1 million in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, according to Small Business Administration data released this week.

McEnany Roofing, a commercial roofing company in Florida owned by McEnany's parents, Michael and Leanne, received somewhere between $1 million and $2 million in government assistance. The loan was first reported by The Daily Dot.

Because the Small Business Administration, which runs the loan program, released only ranges — and not the specific amounts of the loan amounts — the exact sum remains unknown.

Congress created the PPP as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, intending it to help small businesses meet payroll during the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. If employers put their PPP money towards job retention and other operational expenses, they will not have to pay the government back. (Disclosure: Salon received a PPP loan to keep our staff and independent journalism at 100%.)

The Daily Dot reported that about 30 people work in McEnany Roofing's corporate offices. The company employs 141 people total, according to the loan data.

In an April 27 interview with Fox News' Ed Henry, McEnany said PPP funds were intended to support companies with 10 employees or fewer.

"The vast majority — as I noted, 1 million of the 1.6 million loans that went out — were companies with 10 or fewer employees," the White House press secretary said at the time. "That is what this program is designed to do. That is who it is helping."

McEnany Roofing received its loan on April 8. There is no available way to find out how it spent the funds. 

The PPP has been plagued with controversy from the start, and government watchdogs and journalists had long criticized the administration's defiant secrecy surrounding the $659 billion program.

In a June Senate hearing, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin testified that the administration would never reveal which companies received PPP loans.

"We believe that that's proprietary information, and in many cases, for sole proprietors and small businesses," Mnuchin then said. "It is confidential information."

When Fox's Ed Henry pressed McEnany about the transparency issue, she said the government did not do things just to "please the media."

"We're concerned with getting money to people right now," she replied. "I mean, look, we're not concerned with cobbling a list together to please the media."

Eventually, the SBA released the data in separate tranches: loans up to $150,000, which do not name any applicants; and loans above $150,000, which do.

Monday's data dump raised still more concerns. Millions in government assistance went to billionaires, such as Kanye West, and the families of executive branch officials, such as senior White House adviser Jared Kushner and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.

McEnany has been a critic of such programs, telling former Fox Business host Trish Regan in 2018 that "it was exactly right that welfare recipients should feel enough shame to motivate themselves off of government assistance."

By Roger Sollenberger

Roger Sollenberger was a staff writer at Salon (2020-21). Follow him on Twitter @SollenbergerRC.

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