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A senior Senate Democrat wants his committee to investigate how the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team collected $4.6 million from a federal program designed to help American small businesses stay afloat during the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Lakers somehow collected the funds from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which Congress recently created as part of the $2 trillion economic rescue package.
Once it became public that the team, valued at more than $4 billion, received the funds designed for small business, the Lakers returned the funds.
That’s left questions, however, how the team would have acquired the funds in the first place.
Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland, ranking Democrat on the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, said that he wants his committee to ask those questions.
“I’ve already been in touch with Sen. [Marco] Rubio [R-Fla], the chair of our committee. We need to have immediate oversight hearings to find out how this money was distributed, who got it, and whether they deserve it,” said Cardin. “And as we look at what comes next, let’s make sure we get it to the small businesses that really need it, that have had significant revenue losses, and that are the smaller of the small businesses.
“That’s where we need to concentrate our efforts. We did that with the bill we passed last week by walling off $60 billion to smaller financial institutions that reach the underserved communities,” he added. “We have to do a better job, but we need to get the facts first.”
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