Casino Tied to Congressman Susie Lee Wants to Keep Its COVID Lending Money

In the year since COVID-19 handled the gambling industry badly, many companies have seen their fortunes improve.

That proved to be good news for Representative Susie Lee, a Nevada Democrat – politically as well as personally.

Last year, Lee scored a big win for her Las Vegas area successfully promoting casinos to gain access to the federal Paycheck Protection Program, a loan assistance program. for businesses hit hard by the pandemic.

That move in turn opened a new lifeline for Lee and her family. Full House Resorts — a gaming company run by Lee’s husband in which the individual congresswoman has a direct financial stake — applied for and received millions of dollars in loans, The Daily Beast reports in June 2020.

Full House has made a nice recovery since then. But in a fresh twist, casinos are now arguing that taxpayers should opt for the full $5.6 million government-backed cashback to keep them afloat.

According to a new report filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company said it has applied for loan forgiveness with the Small Business Administration and believes it will qualify.

If that’s the case, Uncle Sam would bring profits to a business whose value on the New York Stock Exchange has tripled from pre-pandemic levels. And this spring, the company — which operates five resort properties in Nevada, Colorado, Mississippi and Indiana — expanded one of its Colorado properties with a $3.4 million purchase. la includes a “boutique hotel”.

That luck will save the shareholders of Full House a big part of the change. And Lee herself is a major shareholder in the company: in her most recent form of official financial disclosure, she reported millions of dollars in stock and stock options in the company, which is archived. in various investment accounts.

In May 2021, Lee announced that she and her husband, Daniel, were getting divorced. Her August 2021 financial disclosure lists a number of co-investments in Full House, but also holdings worth at least $1 million — and at most $5 million — in stocks. in a company owned solely by her.


Representative Susie Lee advocated for action on climate change during an event with House Democrats in September.

Chip Somodevilla

Lee’s office told The Daily Beast last year that she knew her husband’s company had applied for PPP loans, but she was not involved in business decisions.

Responding to questions for this article, a spokesperson for Lee said the congresswoman “was not involved in any aspect of Full House’s business or decision-making. She has no influence over the decision to apply for a PPP loan forgiveness, and of course, has no say over whether the application will be approved. “

Full House did not respond to an email request for comment.

Lee is just one of about a dozen members of the National Assembly who are closely associated with businesses that borrow money in the form of PPP. Auto dealerships owned by three Republicans — Representative. Roger Williams (R-TX), Vern Buchanan (R-FL) and Mike Kelly (R-PA) — such as getting PPP loans. A law firm where Representative Matt Cartwright (D-PA) formerly worked, which now employs his wife, also received loans.

Many candidates for office have also benefited from the program, including Lee’s likely Republican rival, April Becker, who runs a gambling business herself that has received more than $600,000. in PPP loans in 2020 and 2021. Becker criticized President Joe Biden for “socialist spending,” referring to the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, led by Democrats. backer, expanded the pandemic loan program that Becker businesses used.

Members of Congress and their family members are allowed to apply for and receive PPP loans. Millions of businesses nationwide were able to get those funds — as of May 2021, the federal government had lent 10.7 million borrowers nearly $800 billion — and nothing showed that. legislators were treated differently.

But ethics watchdogs have commented that it would not be good for members of Congress to benefit directly or indirectly from a program like this, which they crafted and voted to create. .

The Full House case also illustrates some of the broader criticisms of the pandemic lending program, a major government effort that has been sustained for several weeks as COVID ravages US businesses.

PPPs are primarily designed as a lifesaver for small businesses with fewer than 500 employees and few options for survival. “It is unlikely that a public company with significant market value and access to capital markets will be able to obtain the required certification in good faith,” the SBA said in rolling out the program.

But those companies still find a way to get cash in the form of PPP. Government rules authorized subsidiaries of larger companies to apply; Full House is one of many companies taking advantage of that rule.

Larger businesses have not only received PPP loans but have also been successful in being forgiven. According to NBC News, 157 companies with stock market access had their $300 million loan written off, out of a total of $610 billion that borrowers had requested to be written off. Their investigation also found that $120 million worth of loans were forgiven to companies that are now doing better than they were before COVID, like Full House.

When asked about the Full House example, Brandon Brockmyer of the Government Oversight Project said, “It is important for the SBA to carefully consider whether or not to approve a pardon application, in order to make informed decisions. not unduly influenced and transparent to the public about the progress.” Casino Tied to Congressman Susie Lee Wants to Keep Its COVID Lending Money


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