Pro-Trump group Turning Point USA says it won't accept Paycheck Protection Program funds

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Turning Point USA (TPUSA), a pro-Trump advocacy group, said Wednesday that it won’t be accepting any money from the federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

“Our board instructed us to begin the initial process exploring this option, but today we are announcing we are rejecting any and all taxpayer aid and staying completely independent,” Charlie Kirk, founder and president of TPUSA, said in a statement. “To accept this money would be to contradict every core belief we have at Turning Point USA. Big government still sucks.”

Kirk added that the nonprofit group would have qualified for $1.2 million but wanted to ensure other small businesses had access to the funds. If left-wing activist organizations received money ahead of American businesses, “this decision will allow us to be a voice that can hold them accountable," the group's founder said.

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“We will just have to work twice as hard to make up any shortfalls we might experience, but we are proud to be privately and independently funded and we will remain that way in perpetuity,” Kirk added.

Turning Point USA, a mostly college-based organization, had to shut down most of its operations when campuses closed. It also had to cancel a Young Women's Leadership Summit scheduled for early June in Dallas, Texas, which was expected to draw 1,500 participants. Still, the organization maintains more than 200 full-time employees between its Phoenix headquarters and field staff spread all across the country.

The CARES Act, signed into law last week, infused $310 billion into the PPP to provide coronavirus relief to small businesses after the PPP ran out of funding earlier this month.

Many were outraged to find that a number of big businesses had qualified for a loan, and called on large corporations to give the money back.

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"Anybody that took the money that shouldn’t have taken the money, one, it won’t be forgiven and two, they may be subject to criminal liability, which is a big deal,” Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said in an interview on Fox Business. “I encourage everybody to look at this and pay back these loans now so we can recycle the money if you made a mistake.”

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Some public companies such as Shake Shack, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, BioLife Solutions and AutoNation have said the loans they received were earmarked for small businesses.