The Florida Democratic Party applied for and received over three quarters of a million dollars from the Payroll Protection Act, but the party should not have applied in the first place.
Criticism for accepting $780,000 from the Payroll Protection Act has come from both inside and outside the Democratic Party.
Democratic State Senator Jason Pizzo first tweeted it should be returned.
Senator Annette Tadeo quickly expressed outrage, and so did State Representative Anna Eskamani.
“We have to be bold enough and brave enough to say something, because if we don’t have values, then what do we have?” said Eskamani.
Payroll Protection Act rules are clear.
Businesses primarily engaged in political activities aren’t allowed.
In a statement, the Florida Democratic Party said in part “The bank, the loan processor, and agents of the Small Business Association approved the funding. It now seems they made a mistake so we are volunteering to return it.”
“Returning the funds was absolutely the right decision to make. I really wish that the Trump administration was as responsive when it came to actually funding PPP,” said Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried, the lone statewide elected Democrat.
State GOP chair Joe Gruters was reluctant to appear on camera after his CPA firm received a PPP loan.
The Republican Party did not.
Leon County GOP Chair Evan Power said the Democrats should have know better.
“The association of state chairmen sent out a letter saying the Payroll protection money was not aimed to be used for parties and could cause a legal problem if they did it,” said Power.
When asked if the incident warranted an investigation, Power said agreed.
“I think its appropriate to be investigated for taking taxpayer money,” said Power.
At least one Tallahassee lobbying firm has also returned PPP money.