The federal government has forgiven Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans totaling more than $ 1 million to anti-tax organizations, including those led by conspiracy theorist Robert F. Kennedy Jr., discredited scientist Dr. Joseph Mercola, Dr Sherri Tenpenny and others, the Daily beast reported Thursday.
The PPP was ostensibly intended to protect small businesses affected by the novel coronavirus pandemic and help them retain workers by granting companies and other entities federal loans that were potentially forgivable if borrowers did not fire workers . But much of the $ 800 billion and more funds distributed so far have went to big business with bank connections who sucked the pool dry faster than many others could apply. According to the Daily Beast’s public records review, groups that spread misinformation, hoaxes and lies that vaccines are not safe and effective have managed to get a share of that soft and soft funding as well.
The Daily Beast reported that public records show the Small Business Administration (SBA) forgave a loan of $ 145,339 plus thousands of other interest to RFK Jr.’s Children’s Health Defense Co. (CHD), a source prolific anti-vax misinformation. CHD helped publish and promote doctor’s book at the center of the hoax Plandemia documentary, Dr Judy Mikovits; produced a film titled Medical racism: the new apartheid this try to convince Black Americans, they are used as guinea pigs for coronavirus vaccines; and published countless blog posts by RFK Jr. with false claims about non-existent links between vaccination and a number of conditions such as autism.
RFK Jr. a collaborated with QAnon affiliates are spreading claims that Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergens and Infectious Diseases, intends sickening an “entire generation of Americans” with coronavirus vaccines. Kennedy has also been denounced by his own family on his role in the anti -ax conspiracy movement.
The SBA forgave a $ 72,500 loan to the alternative medical practice of Dr Sherry Tenpenny, a prominent anti-vaccine doctor who told Ohio lawmakers earlier this year that the coronavirus vaccine literally makes people magnetic , according to the Daily Beast. (It is notDr Joseph Mercola, the disgraced physician whose debunked and retracted study claiming a link between vaccines and autism fueled much of the modern anti-vax movement, got a discount of nearly a half -million loans to two companies. Ronnie Cummins, who worked with Mercola on a book claiming the pandemic is part of a plan for a dystopian “big reset”, heads the Organic Consumers Association. The SBA forgave him $ 165,400 in loans.
Finally, according to The Beast, the SBA forgave loans to anti-vaccination publishers, the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) and TTAC Publishing ($ 137,466 and $ 252,050 respectively). NVIC is considered one of the strongest anti-tax organizations in the country and as of October 2020 organized a conference for the movement to coordinate a “main story” claiming that the coronavirus is not dangerous and that vaccine side effects are widespread and more dangerous than the virus itself. The conference also urged targeting people with high social media followers with anti-vax propaganda, as well as focusing on black Americans who are suspicious of the history of medical racism.
The SBA, of course, doesn’t really care what business functions borrowers actually perform, just that they meet the requirements of the program. But it’s frustrating that the same organizations that are helping fuel the vaccine hesitancy in the United States are also receiving disaster funding for companies actually affected by the pandemic. As the Daily Beast noted, some of the organizations on the list are already quite wealthy. RFK Jr. holds expensive fundraisers in California for the CHD. Mercola, for example, estimated his net wealth over $ 100 million in 2017. He’s also poured millions into the NVIC over the years. And one might assume that being a professional anti-vaxxer is one of the few professions that actually knows greater success in the midst of a pandemic.
The United States recently missed an adult vaccination 70% target the weekend of July 4, largely due misinformation about vaccines divided into groups such as those above and the efforts of former President Donald Trump and the Republican Party to foster vaccine reluctance among conservatives and red states in particular. According to survey data released by the Kaiser Family Foundation at the end of June, 10% of Americans say they will “wait and see” if they get a vaccine, 6% say they will only do it if necessary, and 14% say they definitely won’t. Among the main reasons cited were concerns that the vaccine is “too new”, will cause side effects, a lack of confidence in the government or the vaccines, or the belief that they are not safe. The partisan gap in immunization rates also grows, according to the foundation, with vaccination rates of 46.7% in counties that voted for Biden on July 6 and just 35% in those that voted for Trump.