A company owned by Rep. Webster Barnabas received more than $33,000 through a pandemic-related loan program. Now that total total has been forgiven.
While many businesses struggle to get Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans forgiven, that’s no problem for Barnaby’s company, Selling Connections Unlimited. As of August 9, a PPP loan of $33,542, plus interest, has been forgiven, according to a database maintained by ProPublica. The company is listed by ProPublica as having two employees.
Selling Connections Unlimited, which Barnaby founded in 2011, remains in operation in Deltona. His financial disclosure as a member of the House, filed last June, earns income for Barnaby of $139,452. This is his only income in 2020 besides the salary he earned as a representative in the last two months of the year.
In his official lawmaker biography, the Deltona Republican lists his occupation as president of a limited liability company, which describes Selling Connections Unlimited.
The company lists Barnaby’s home address as its principal place of business in a Annual Report filed with the state.
Barnaby is currently running for re-election against fellow Rep. Elisabeth Fetterhoff in House District 29. The two Republican lawmakers now represent neighboring House districts, but redistricting plans place them in the same jurisdiction. They are the only state officials matched by redistricting who intend to run against each other. In every other potential matchup, at least one lawmaker has moved to a new district to run.
Barnaby’s loan was canceled even though many business owners complain that their loans were not. It became a major problem in heavily populated minority areas like South Florida. US senator. Marco Rubioa Miami Republican and one of the key legislative architects of the PPP program, recently sent a letter to the Small Business Administration asking for answers about a backlog of complaints about low forgiveness rates.
“Other of concern, the most recent data available shows that businesses with predominantly black or Hispanic ZIP codes, including in Miami-Dade, Broward and Osceola counties in Florida, had some of the highest loan forgiveness rates. Lowest 2020 PPPs in the country. “, wrote Rubio. “For an administration committed to making racial equity a core part of its agenda, these numbers suggest a remarkable lack of responsiveness to underserved communities.”
The fact that the loans were 100% repayable was a major selling point for the loans, which were intended to allow employers to continue paying employees during COVID-19 shutdowns.
Florida Politics has reached out to Barnaby for comment and will update this post with their response.