Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.) speaks during a House Financial Services Committee hearing on Tuesday, October 22, 2019. (Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc. via Getty Images)

Katie Porter Demands Resignation of Trump Small Business Chief for Enabling 'Abuse' of Covid-19 Relief Funds

"She is fighting with the nonpartisan GAO on basic data that lets them do their job of transparency and accountability," Porter said of small business administrator Jovita Carranza.

Jake Johnson

California Congresswoman Katie Porter is demanding the resignation of the Trump administration's small business chief for enabling "abuse" and "waste" of coronavirus relief funds and refusing to comply with basic government oversight efforts.

Porter's call came after the Government Accountability Office (GAO) said in a report last week that it "encountered the most difficulty trying to obtain information from the Small Business Administration (SBA)" during the process of examining the Trump administration's handling of the $650 billion Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

"Carranza has mismanaged this program from start to end, refused to comply with lawful oversight, and enabled waste, fraud, and abuse of taxpayer dollars."
—Rep. Katie Porter

The GAO also said SBA's attempts to speed up the loan application process left the sprawling small business relief program "more susceptible to fraudulent applications."

"Because of the number of loans approved, the speed with which they were processed, and the limited safeguards, there is a significant risk that some fraudulent or inflated applications were approved," the GAO said. "In addition, the lack of clear guidance has increased the likelihood that borrowers may misuse loan proceeds or be surprised they do not qualify for full loan forgiveness."

In an interview on MSNBC Thursday, Porter argued the GAO's findings demonstrate that SBA administrator Jovita Carranza is "unfit to continue in that role."

"The PPP program, that $650 billion, this is one of the biggest government programs in our country's history, and she is fighting with the nonpartisan GAO on basic data that lets them do their job of transparency and accountability," said the California Democrat. "That is the wrong mindset for somebody whose title is administrator."


In a series of tweets last week, Porter warned that the SBA "has essentially no plans to review 99% of PPP loans."

"According to the [GAO] report, small businesses that didn't need the money returned at least 3,800 loans," Porter wrote. "How are you going to know if the other 4,576,388 loans are legitimate? Any answers, [Treasury Secretary] Steve Mnuchin or Jovita Carranza?"

"Carranza has mismanaged this program from start to end, refused to comply with lawful oversight, and enabled waste, fraud, and abuse of taxpayer dollars," said Porter. "She should take responsibility and resign."

The SBA and the Treasury Department have both come under fire for resisting calls to disclose basic information about recipients of small business loans. On June 11, as Common Dreams reported, Mnuchin told the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship that information about PPP loan recipients is "proprietary" and "confidential."

In response to widespread backlash—including from Porter and other lawmakers—Mnuchin and the SBA agreed to disclose the names of borrowers who received loans of $150,000 or more.

On top of Trump administration intransigence, advocacy groups have warned that oversight of Covid-19 relief funds has been lax because the commission created by Congress to monitor the money remains without a chair nearly 100 days after its inception. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) must agree on the appointment.

"Without a head, the commission has been severely constrained in its critical work of overseeing the economic stabilization efforts that the Treasury and Federal Reserve were charged with in the CARES Act," Lisa Gilbert, executive vice president of Public Citizen, said in a statement Wednesday. "Filling this seat must be a top priority for congressional leadership so that the American public can be reassured that there is robust oversight of our money as it goes out the door."

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

UN Chief Denounces Shelling of Ukraine Nuclear Plant as 'Suicidal'

To avert a public health calamity, Ukrainian officials are calling for the Zaporizhzhia site to be demilitarized and run by a team of peacekeepers.

Kenny Stancil ·

Big Pharma Bemoans 'Tragic Loss' as Democrats Take Modest Action to Curb Drug Prices

Patient advocates, meanwhile, applauded passage of the Inflation Reduction Act as a "historic victory for consumers and a historic defeat for Big Pharma's monopoly control."

Jake Johnson ·

Sanders Says Senate Bill 'Nowhere Near' Enough as Dems, GOP Tank His Amendments

The Vermont senator nevertheless supported final passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, calling it "a step forward" on climate and drug prices.

Jake Johnson ·

Senate Barely Approves Scaled Back Legislation on Climate, Taxes, Healthcare

But thanks to Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), there was a huge, last-minute win for the private equity and hedge fund industries

Common Dreams staff ·

'What the Hell is Wrong With Them': GOP Senators Kill $35 Cap on Insulin

'Republicans told millions of Americans who use insulin to go to hell.'

Common Dreams staff ·

Common Dreams Logo