At Least Two Energy Companies That Approved Stock Buybacks In 2019 Got $15.5 Million In PPP Loans

HELENA, MT The Washington Post is reporting, based on research supplied by watchdog group Accountable.US, that at least two oil-related energy corporations with troubling histories of stock buybacks have been awarded Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) bailouts totaling $15.5 million from the Trump administration. Accountable.US compiled the research from Securities and Exchange Commission filings.

Today’s story comes following recent reporting that PPP funds have been going to big corporations instead of to the small businesses that they were intended to go to, and also after Trump’s Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin recently promised that the administration wouldn’t give bailouts to oil companies. 

“The Trump administration cares more about protecting its corporate cronies than helping the millions of Americans reeling from the economic consequences of this pandemic,” said Kyle Herrig, President of Accountable.US. “It’s insulting to hardworking Americans who are still waiting for economic relief that this administration is giving loans meant to help small businesses to big oil corporations who are spending millions of dollars on stock buybacks to enrich their wealthy shareholders.”

In the story, the Washington Post reports that:

  • Independence Contract Drilling received $10 million from the Paycheck Protection Program, and has a troubling history of stock buybacks; it approved stock buybacks totaling $10 million and had repurchased $475,477 worth of shares as of December 31, 2019.
  • Amplify Energy Corp. got a $5.5 million loan from the Paycheck Protection Program, and the company had paid $26.2 million to buy back 4.3 million shares of stock in 2019.
  • Everflow Eastern Partners got a $327,000 loan from the Paycheck Protection Program. Last year, the company spent $129,582 to purchase equity from investors. Everflow’s President told the Washington Post that the company was not buying back stock but was “repurchas[ing] equity” at a certain price.

According to Accountable.US’ tally, the oil and gas sector has received over $100 million from the PPP so far and the ‘Mining’ sector, which includes oil and gas, has been awarded over $3.9 billion. These filings were compiled as part of an ongoing tracking project by Accountable.US. TrumpBailouts.org documents the billion-dollar corporations and other large companies that have received taxpayer assistance under the CARES Act, and what advantages and assets they had going into the COVID-19 crisis that most small businesses could never access.

Previously controversial PPP grantees include a foreign-owned uranium mining corporation with ties to the Trump administration, at least two companies that market their ability to ship U.S. manufacturing jobs overseas, major luxury hotel chains, a fashion model agency, and even the L.A. Lakers.  

BACKGROUND: The SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program has been plagued with reports of legitimate small businesses unable to access the help the President claimed would come in “record time”. They have faced a bureaucratic maze often ending in delays and rejection as banks reportedly prioritized those “with the best relationships — not the neediest or most deserving.” A recent survey of small businesses found only 13% of the 45% who applied for a PPP loan were ever approved. Meanwhile, CEOs of large companies have managed to coast through the process. Well over 300 publicly-traded firms or conflicted companies, some worth more than $100 million, have received over a billion dollars in taxpayer money. It’s no wonder the Trump administration has shied away from transparency in this process.

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