Candidate AG’s company received pandemic relief funds from its bank | Government and politics

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OKLAHOMA CITY — Gentner Drummond, a wealthy Tulsa businessman who said he plans to spend millions on his campaign for state attorney general, has received $3.6 million in funding from pandemic relief for several of his businesses, using his own bank to review some of the applications and to administer the money.

As the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered businesses, the federal government provided Paycheck Protection Program loans in an effort to maintain employee compensation, especially in businesses where access to capital was difficult. difficult.

In 2020, three of Drummond’s businesses — a cattle ranch, a chain of cellphone retailers, and a law firm — received a total of $1.9 million in Paycheck Protection Program loans that were later canceled by the federal government, according to data from the Small Business Administration and ProPublica.

The following year, in another round of P3 financing, the three Drummond companies received an additional $1.7 million, this time administered by Blue Sky Bank, of which Drummond is the majority owner.

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Blue Sky Bank was eligible for $62,337 in processing fees to administer the three loans, according to Treasury Department Lender Compensation Information.

It brought in an additional $8,161 in loan interest, which was repaid by the federal government.

The rules on Paycheck Protection Program loans weren’t always clear, but the federal government said businesses applying for the funds “must certify in good faith that their PPP loan application is necessary,” according to the Treasury Department.

Borrowers were also instructed to “consider their current business activity and their ability to access other sources of sufficient liquidity to support their ongoing operations in a manner that is not materially detrimental to the business. “.

PPP loans were administered by banks, which were responsible for reviewing applications and determining whether the level of need justified the money.

In 2018, Drummond spent nearly $2.36 million of his own money on a run for attorney general that he narrowly lost. When he announced his second campaign for attorney general last year, Drummond said he was prepared to spend an additional $2 million.

His campaign said he had not personally received any of the pandemic relief funds as an employee and that before federal funds were provided, “Mr. Drummond businesses paid employees even whether businesses have experienced continued shutdowns due to local regulations and/or COVID outbreaks among employees.

When Drummond businesses applied for the first round of PPP funds, they used First Bank of Oklahoma. The second request went through Drummond’s bank.

Drummond’s campaign said Blue Sky Bank followed the same loan application and cancellation process for its businesses as for all other customers.

His campaign also said the loans were needed to keep his businesses operating at the height of the pandemic.

“The loans were absolutely vital to keeping its workforce employed, which would not have been possible otherwise,” his campaign said. “Like countless businesses across the country, Mr. Drummond’s businesses have experienced tremendous financial hardship and hardship during the pandemic.

On its 2021 application, Drummond reported 298 employees, a 50% increase from the previous year.

A spokesperson for his campaign said there had been no growth in the number of employees, but the increase reflected the requirement to count the number of company employees and others subsidiaries.

Attorney General John O’Connor, whom Drummond is challenging in the Republican primary, was a shareholder in Hall Estill from 2018 to 2021. That law firm received $3.4 million in PPP funds. However, O’Connor was not a member of the board of directors and did not have a majority stake in the company.

With less than six weeks to go until the Republican primary, the race is shaping up to be one of the most expensive primary elections in the state, as the two candidates have traded attack ads through their own campaigns or distinct political groups.

Despite being the challenger, Drummond is well known after his 2018 campaign, when he lost by 271 votes.

Several polls showed Drummond with a considerable lead over O’Connor. In an April poll of Republican primary voters, Drummond led by 40 percentage points, but nearly half of all voters were still undecided.

This month, another poll from another company showed Drummond with 41% support to O’Connor’s 23%. However, that poll showed that 36% of likely primary voters were still undecided.

With no Democratic nominee for attorney general, the Republican primary will likely decide the eventual winner. Libertarian Lynda Steele will also be on the ballot in November.

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