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Grover Norquist’s anti-spending group took small business relief

Ben Brody

The Americans for Tax Reform Foundation, a conservative-allied group headed by anti-tax activist Grover Norquist, took Covid-19 small business relief funds from the federal government, according to data released Monday.

The nonprofit foundation – which advocates restraint in government spending and says it works to educate taxpayers on “costly government programs” – took a loan between $150,000 and $350,000 from the Paycheck Protection Program, according to the data disclosed by the Small Business Administration, which is overseeing approval of loans to address the economic devastation from the pandemic.

Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, arrives at the White House in Washington, Monday, April 1, 2019.

Norquist, a prominent conservative activist, is known for pushing Republicans to take a pledge not to increase net taxes in an effort to slim the government.

The foundation is related to Americans for Tax Reform, which is allowed to participate in a greater array of political activities and engages in federal lobbying, according to disclosures. Lawmakers had expressed concern that the array of nonprofits that had access to the funds would result in relief funds going to lobbyists.

A statement on Americans for Tax Reform’s website said the foundation “was badly hurt by the government shutdown.”

“It applied for and received a loan and has as a consequence been able to maintain its employees without laying anyone off,” the statement said, adding that the political group didn’t oppose the PPP.

Americans for Tax Reform and its foundation – which the statement described as “legally and financially separate” – share leadership, an office building near the White House and a phone number.

The foundation’s loan was approved in late April to support 33 jobs, according to the data.

The Trump administration released details of almost 4.9 million loans to businesses and nonprofits under the relief program, which gave out almost $521.5 billion through June 30.

The program was designed to provide small businesses with loans of as much as $10 million, based on a company’s average monthly payroll before the pandemic. The loans can become grants if borrowers use the proceeds mostly to pay workers, with some spending allowed for rent and overhead costs.