Political Paycheck Protection

Jim Blaine’s Firms Took PPP: Political Paycheck Protection.

Consulting firms owned by Jim Blaine, the long-time Republican political operative who was recently appointed to the UNC Board of Trustees, took over $80,000 in federal PPP bailouts – while being paid $800,000 by the UNC system.

Yes, a firm that advises right-wing clients on bashing the big-spending federal government’s bailouts and handouts happily took federal bailouts.

Danielle Battaglia of The News & Observer reported the PPP loans, which were forgiven, in a story headlined, “How US allowed pandemic relief to go to NC companies involved in politics and lobbying.”

The story said:

“Martin & Blaine, also known as The Differentiators and based in Raleigh, received a $59,620 loan on April 15, 2020, according to a database maintained by ProPublica. Jim Blaine and Ray Martin, who both previously worked for state Senate leader Phil Berger, own the firm….”

“A former company of Blaine’s, Blaine Consulting, LLC, also received a $20,832 PPP loan and had the loan and interest forgiven.”

The two loans totaled $80,452.

The N&O noted that companies engaged in lobbying or political activities could get loans “only if lobbying or political activity were not their ‘primary’ lines of work.”

In 2020, the N&O reported, Blaine and Martin worked together on a lieutenant governor’s race, a congressional race and with an organization raising money to ensure that Republicans maintain control of the North Carolina House and Senate.

Blaine is former chief of staff to Berger, the state Senate leader, and Martin is Berger’s former spokesman. Currently, they are advising Republican U.S. Rep. Dan Bishop on his campaign for state attorney general.

They also work closely with Club for Growth Action, a conservative super PAC, the N&O reported.

From 2019 until this year, Blaine and Martin’s firm had a $15,000-a-month contract as “strategic advisers” to the UNC system.

They were paid over $800,000 during the same time they received PPP money.

They had to give up the contract when Blaine was appointed recently to the UNC Board of Trustees.

Martin told the N&O: “Our business has diverse revenue streams — very few of them involve political campaigns and zero of them involve lobbying. Like many small businesses, we lost work when the pandemic hit and we were concerned about the future.”

Bob Hall, a longtime elections watchdog and analyst of North Carolina politics, told the N&O that The Differentiators get a “huge amount of money” for political work.

“Maybe they also get a huge amount of money through corporate work,” Hall said. “But there’s no question that they’re a substantial political force in North Carolina. They remain behind the scenes but they’re still well-known and well paid.”

Perhaps, given his PPP experience, Blaine will be a strong supporter of student-loan forgiveness on the Board of Trustees.

N&O story: https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article277845523.html#storylink=cpy

Image source: https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article213990884.html

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