Newsom’s PlumpJack Group got a plump $2.9 million in PPP loans for its high-end wineries and restaurants, which is eight times higher than what was originally reported.
The dirty laundry from Gov. Gavin Newsom’s French Laundry dinner scandal is more about poor optics than actual protocol violations, as the whole thing was arguably legal and compliant, but a bad look when Newsom was asking us to avoid doing exactly that kind of thing. Now Newsom has another uncomfortable revelation for which he could technically argue that is all legal, but that the court of public opinion may not take kindly to, as KGO reports that Newsom’s PlumpJack Group received $3 million in PPP loans for its nine wineries, restaurants, and bars.
That sum is eight times higher than the mere $350,000 that the Small Business Administration (SBA) initially reported, which is not necessarily Newsom’s fault. The SBA releases data when they release it. Further, Newsom has put all his holdings in a blind trust, there’s no evidence he meddled to get the generous loans. But it certainly seems odd that PlumpJack entity Villa Encinal Partners LP received $918,000 — more than any other California winery — despite having a mere 14 employees.
“It’s unexpected for a 14 employee organization to get nearly $1 million,” Project on Government Oversight senior policy analyst Sean Moulton told KGO. “The purpose behind this program was to save entry-level jobs, people going in and working on that paycheck. That was what we put this out there for, to stop unemployment.”
KGO has the complete list of PlumpJack entities that received various PPP loan sums. Here in San Francisco, those loans were awarded to Balboa Cafe ($506,799), PlumpJack Wines & Spirits ($337,062), the PlumpJack Foundation ($138,787), SOMA Lounge ($87,400), Sunset Bar ($82,391), and White Rabbit ($72,059).
Sure, these restaurants and entities have employees, and their business is sharply down. But some of these restaurants have billionaire Getty investors, too. So yes, it is legal for any qualifying company to get PPP loan money. But you try telling Farallon, Tacolicious, Mozzeria, or the long list of other COVID-19 restaurant casualties why billionaire Getty-funded restaurants deserved more PPP loan support than them.
Image: @GavinNewsom via Twitter