SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (NEXSTAR) — A McDonald’s franchise owned by Congressman Rodney Davis’ father and brother was one of more than 200,000 Illinois businesses to take out small business loans through the federal Paycheck Protection Program, according to information published Monday by the Trump administration.
Peoples Bank and Trust processed the loan application for B. K. Davis, LLC. The company did not return calls seek comment, but records show it received more than $1 million in forgivable loans through the federal COVID-19 relief program. Documents show the company reported using the funds to keep 305 workers on the payroll at McDonald’s restaurants across Central Illinois.
“I have no financial stake or any involvement in the McDonald’s franchises owned and operated by my dad and brother and had no involvement in their PPP loan application through their local bank,” Davis said in an emailed statement on Wednesday. “This vital program was available to every single small business in America.”
Davis voted for the widely popular program when it passed, and supported its expansion after the first round of funding ran out. He previously described the small business loans as “bridge funding until we can get reopened again.”
“There’s strings attached to those dollars, otherwise the loan can’t be forgiven,” Davis explained in a June 24th interview. “And a percentage, a high percentage, has to be spent keeping people off of unemployment. And our small businesses, our mom and pop shops, were asked to keep people on payroll. They were asked to continue to pay their rent and keep their business going.”
Davis faces a repeat challenge from Democratic candidate Betsy Dirsken Londrigan this November. His opponent pounced on the news and highlighted his recent votes against transparency measures.
“What I’ve heard from small business owners is a frustration [over] who got the loans — large corporations who got the loans, or well connected people got the loans — which is why we need transparency,” she said in an interview Wednesday.
Several family-owned restaurants in the 13th Congressional District have already shut down since the onset of the Coronavirus. The Feed Store, one of downtown Springfield’s favorite lunch spots, shut its doors last week after 44 years in business. Its owners expressed dismay and frustration at a cumbersome, confusing process to apply for the PPP funds through their bank.
“I’ve heard from small business owners who had trouble accessing the PPP,” Dirksen Londrigan said, “and you know, that’s why, again, why transparency is really important, because we all deserve to know how our tax dollars were spent. We deserve to know who received them, how they spent them when they got them. Those are important elements here and Congressman Davis voted against it twice, which I disagree with.”
On April 23rd, Davis voted against a resolution to establish an oversight committee to investigate waste, fraud or abuse in the CARES Act federal relief package. Later, on May 28th, Davis voted against The Truth Act, which would have required greater public disclosure of which companies received federal loans.
“These are our tax dollars,” Dirksen Londrigan said. “This is not Congressman Davis’s money. It’s not the federal government’s money. This is our taxpayer money. And we deserve to know how it is being spent, who’s receiving it, when they received it. We deserve to know all of that. It’s our money.”
“Londrigan is inventing an issue simply to score political points,” Aaron DeGroot, a spokesman for Davis shot back. “She’s claiming a lack of transparency over data that is publicly available. When this passed overwhelmingly in both chambers there was never any intention to keep the information secret.”
“The SBA data shows that the vast majority of loans went to small businesses,” he added. “Whatever ‘large corporations’ Londrigan is referring to is just a dog whistle to her liberal donors on the east and west coasts who want to see the government control private businesses.”
Data from the Small Business Administration shows Illinois businesses took out $22.5 billion in PPP loans and used the money to keep 2.2 million workers on their payroll. As of June 30th, nearly $132 billion in PPP funding was still available.
DeGroot said, “I encourage the small business owners who spoke with Londrigan to ignore her misinformation and contact their local bank as the program is still operational and available.”
Editor’s note: A previous version of this article attributed comments from a Davis spokesman to Davis.