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Ethics Observer Calls on Congress to Investigate Democratic Representative Susie Lee After Accusing Her of a Conflict of Interest by Requesting the Small Business Administration (SBA) to Extend Eligibility for the Coronavirus Loan in a way that they say benefited her husband’s business.
Just weeks after Lee’s request, SBA changed its criteria on April 28 to include the gaming industry. Two weeks later, Full House Resorts, in which Lee and her husband owned millions of dollars in shares and options, received a total of $ 5.6 million in loans – a conflict of interest, said the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust in a complaint. he will testify on Friday.
“Conflict of interest laws are among the oldest and most important ethical laws,” said Kendra Arnold, who heads FACT. “It seems like a fairly simple violation – Lee could no longer be directly linked to the business through her own interests and those of her husband, and she argued for regulatory changes that would, and in fact, benefited the business . OCE [Office of Congressional Ethics] should thoroughly investigate this matter as soon as possible. ”
The lawsuit also claims that Full House Resorts saw its share prices rebound to $ 2.00 per share after two of its casinos received SBA loans. During the pandemic, it went from $ 3.59 per share to just $ 0.53.
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According to The Daily Beast, Lee allegedly said in his letter, “For the SBA to take a stand that these small businesses are not eligible for the help they need because of their involvement in the gaming industry belies the economic realities of their location and condemn countless small businesses in Nevada to bankruptcy. The Treasury Department and the SBA updated their Paycheque Protection Program guidelines in the weeks following the sending of this letter.
Lee’s office denied the wrongdoing, saying the member was not involved in Full House’s decision to request the loan. Fox News asked for comments.
“She is not involved in any aspect of Full House business or decision-making,” a spokesperson told The Daily Beast. “She had no influence on the decision to file the request, and she had no influence on the approval or rejection of this request. The terms and details under which Full House Resorts received its PPP loan are entirely between Full House Resorts and the regulators. ”
After the Daily Beast released its report, a spokesperson told the store that Lee did not learn of the company’s intention to apply until a few days after the SBA expanded its loan eligibility.
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FACT argues, however, that Lee’s knowledge of the request is “completely irrelevant” since a conflict of interest arises when a member of Congress acts in a manner that “may affect” his interests personal financiers.
MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle previously said that senior Democrats had informed Lee’s husband that the situation was problematic for his wife. “He didn’t care and obviously she was comfortable with that,” said Ruhle.
“A conflict of interest exists,” reads the FACT complaint, “when the private affairs of a Member seem, or in reality, to conflict with their capacity to act officially in the name of the public interest… Because the Integrity of government action is at risk, ethical rules oblige members to refrain from any official action when there is even an inference of a conflict, as well as in the event of a real conflict. ”
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According to the complaint, conflicts can arise when members vote on legislation or engage in other official actions, including contacting an executive agency like SBA.
“This is not a case where Lee simply voted on legislation, but it is a case where she used her official position to advocate for an agency to change its regulations,” added the complaint. “Therefore, the conflict rules must be strictly applied to avoid both an apparent or real conflict of interest. “