The Aspen Institute, best known as the place where dumb lefties go to feel smart, has a lot of cash, but was happy to take more.
The Aspen Institute think tank accepted more than $8 million in federal small-businesses funds despite having a $115 million endowment and a board of trustees populated by billionaires.
Aspen Institute leaders, led by President and CEO Daniel R. Porterfield, held a call Monday with dozens of Aspen fellows to explain why they had decided to keep the money. The group’s many conferences and forums, the bread-and-butter of its operations, have been canceled. A 98-room conference center it owns in Aspen is closed and forecasting substantial losses. Overall, the D.C.-based nonprofit organization is projecting a loss of between $14 million and $17 million for 2020.
The Aspen Institute isn’t a small business. Indeed the term small business, when applied to these loans, is meaningless. That said, Aspen is among the wealthier political non-profits around, and with the size of its endowment, could easily take the hit.
But the SBA has since advised recipients to return money if they can easily access funds from other sources. The agency said applicants should take into account “their current business activity and their ability to access other sources of liquidity.”
Businesses that may fall into this category have until Thursday to return the funds or risk having to repay the loans even if they rehired employees.
Aspen, despite its protests, has deep pockets. And it’s outrageous, while many small businesses were not able to access SBA PPP loans, Aspen was. And that goes to the larger question of the loans effectively being outsourced to banks and whether Aspen’s relationship with its financial institutions helped it get a loan while actual small businesses were frozen out.
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