TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Five Florida congressmen are calling for an investigation into the pandemic relief loan secured by the Florida Democratic Party in May.
It is still not known who signed off on the application for the Paycheck Protection Program loan, and the Republican lawmakers believe criminal charges could be warranted.
Republicans have used the $780,000 loan secured by the Democrats in local and national attack ads.
After months of not receiving a full explanation about how the loan was secured, they’re now calling on the Small Business Administration to investigate.
“The bottom line is the American people and Floridians deserve transparency,” said U.S. Rep. Michael Waltz.
Waltz and four other Republicans are leading the charge.
“If there’s a reasonable explanation, let’s hear it, and if there needs to be accountability, let’s see it,” he said.
Most important, Waltz said, is determining who signed off on the application.
“And I would find it very difficult to believe that the senior leadership of the Florida Democratic Party didn’t approve this loan, know that it was going out,” Waltz said.
We’ve been asking for months, but the Democratic Party of Florida has so far refused to release the loan application.
The state’s highest ranking Democrat, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, told us several weeks ago she’s satisfied with explanations provided by the party.
“They returned the money and they have realized that that was a mistake to have applied for it to begin with,” Fried said.
Waltz said the public deserves to hear that explanation. “It’s their money — it’s not her money,” he said.
Financial records show the Democratic Party paid back the loan it received.
Waltz argued that doesn’t undo any potential wrongdoing.
Lying on a PPP loan application is a felony that carries up to five years in prison and/or a $250,000 fine.
We reached out to the Democratic Party of Florida for comment on this story and requested a copy of the original loan application. We did not receive a response.