ICYMI: As Michigan GOP Blocks COVID-19 Relief, Majority Leader Mike Shirkey’s Company Takes $1.7 Million PPP Loan
As Michigan Republicans continue to delay federal COVID-19 relief for their constituents, Michigan GOP Senate Leader Mike Shirkey’s business accepted $1.7 million in federal COVID-19 assistance from the Paycheck Protection Program, according to a new report from The Detroit News. This is the second loan his company has received, bringing the total up to $3.5 million.
Raising more questions, Crain’s Detroit editor Chad Livengood noted Shirkey has been giving different answers to reporters about his level of involvement in the business.
In January, Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer proposed a $5.6 billion COVID-19 relief plan which allocated federal money for schools, vaccine distribution, small business assistance, unemployment benefits, and more. But Republicans in the state Senate only approved $2 billion for Michiganders, withholding nearly $4 billion, including $2 billion for food assistance.
Read more about how the Michigan GOP is failing to help Michiganders below.
A business owned by Michigan Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey has been approved for $1.7 million more in federal assistance as Democrats argue that he’s not moving quickly enough to sign off on COVID-19 aid provided to the state as a whole.
Shirkey, R-Clarklake, is the owner and founder of Orbitform, a Jackson-based engineering business, according to his Senate website. The U.S. Small Business Administration authorized a $1.7 million loan for Orbitform through the Paycheck Protection Program on Jan. 21, according to data disclosed by the agency.
Orbitform received a $1.8 million loan in April 2020 through the program, which provides money to help businesses keep their workers employed during the COVID-19 pandemic. The loans can be forgiven if employee and compensation levels are maintained.
Orbitform’s second loan was approved two days after Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer unveiled her $5.6 billion COVID-19 recovery plan that proposed using federal relief dollars to boost schools, vaccine distribution and testing and tracing efforts.
Republicans who control the state Legislature have delayed allocating the funds. The Senate approved a $2 billion plan on Thursday, 37 days after Whitmer’s proposal. The Senate bills now have to go to the House, which has its own proposal.
The Senate GOP plan failed to allocate $4 billion in federal relief money, including $2 billion in food assistance and $378 million in rental assistance, according to Whitmer’s office. Senate Appropriations Chairman Jim Stamas, R-Midland, said the state’s food assistance program has enough money now.
On Friday, Sen. Jeremy Moss, D-Southfield, said it was “outrageous” that Shirkey’s business was taking more federal assistance while the Senate is not allocating all of Michigan’s relief funding.
“While he is personally enriching himself or his business, there are Michiganders who are not getting the full support that should be sent to them,” Moss said.
Senate Republicans are picking winners and losers during a pandemic by holding back billions of dollars, said Lavora Barnes, chairwoman of the Michigan Democratic Party.
“It is unconscionable that Mike Shirkey would accept two PPP loans from the federal government on behalf of his company while at the same time denying COVID relief for the rest of Michigan,” Barnes said.
Sweeney denied that the Senate was “withholding money.”