Trump Winery Might Get More Bailout Money Than Other Businesses That Need It

(AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)

By Elle Meyers

April 14, 2020

Hotel industry loophole would allow the Trump family Charlottesville winery to get payroll help meant for small businesses

Emergency federal funding meant to help small businesses make payroll might end up getting funneled to Trump family hotels, including their Charlottesville winery, instead of small businesses that need it most.

As WNYC and ProPublica report, the $2 trillion package passed last month explicitly bans President Trump, his family and other officials from benefiting personally from the money. But a loan program meant to help small businesses cover payroll costs has a special loophole for hotels with fewer than 500 employees that allows them to apply for the same money, despite not being small. That loophole was pushed by a hotel industry group, which WNYC reports got a meeting with Vice President Mike Pence in mid-March.

Trump Winery in Charlottesville is technically owned by President Donald Trump’s son Eric, but that hasn’t stopped the president from saying he owns it himself, and that it is one of the largest wineries in the United States. (It is not.) But the hotel says it has 100 employees, meaning it could get some of the federal funding.

When Congress approved the small business payroll loan program, they probably had Charlottesville companies like Airflow Systems Incorporated, an HVAC company that says the pandemic has been hard on business, or the numerous restaurants that line UVA Corner more in mind.

But President Trump has a history of asking for federal help that is meant for small businesses, according to WNYC. After September 11, his company applied for a program that was meant to help small businesses recover in lower Manhattan after the terrorist attacks. 

The president he wasn’t sure what his companies would get from the funding package at a White House briefing.

“I just don’t know what the government assistance would be for what I have,” Trump said. 

Depending on payroll costs, each hotel can qualify for up to $10 million in loans and those loans can be forgiven if the money is used for payroll and ongoing expenses. There are three additional Trump hotels that appear to qualify in D.C, New York and Chicago according to reports

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