The former Democratic Georgia state representative now running as the Trump-endorsed U.S. House hopeful in the GOP primary for his state’s 10th Congressional District told The Georgia Star and The Star News Network his opponent trucking businessman Mike Collins’ $465,000 loan to his campaign after the government forgave his $920,000 loan from the government’s Payroll Protection Program troubled him.
“Yeah, I want to be clear, the purpose of PPP loans was to save struggling self-employed, small businesses, mid-size businesses,” said Vernon Jones, who dropped his primary challenge to Gov. Brian P. Kemp at the request of President Donald J. Trump to clear the field for former senator David A. Perdue Jr.
“It was to save them, not to be used for other purposes, but it appears as though that Mike Collins has used the PPP loans to further his political career, and that’s troubling,” he said.
“Well, we all know that PPP loans are used to save struggling small businesses, mom-and-pop businesses, mid-size businesses,” he said. “It is to keep their doors open and try to keep employees on and to use PPP money to fund your political campaign; if that’s the case, that’s troubling.”
According to federal records reviewed by The Georgia Star and The Star News Network, Collins Trucking borrowed $920,000 through the Truist bank, the Charlotte, North Carolina, based successor to the 2019 Sun Trust and BB&T merger.
The loan was designated to protect 93 jobs at Collins Trucking, and the company received the first tranche April 9, 2020.
Although the original loan was for $920,000, the amount due was $928,689, including accrued interest when the government forgave the loan.
According to federal records reviewed by The Georgia Star and The Star News Network, in the report the Collins campaign filed with the Federal Election Commission for the fourth quarter of 2021, the candidate lent the campaign or otherwise guaranteed the campaign $465,000.
Jones said he would never use public funds to, in effect, support his campaign.
“I have not, nor will I use, public funds that are to save small businesses and are struggling,” he said. “I mean to be clear, but to save struggling small businesses and to save jobs and to protect people’s livelihoods, I would never use that for political campaigns.”
The former state representative said he is in no way knocking the PPP, nor what it did to keep the businesses going during the economic crush of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Matter of fact, there’s nothing wrong with loaning your campaign money if you want to make a personal loan, but what is troubling is to see where the abuses have taken place with PPP loans—and again, to use a PPP loan to fund your political campaign,” he said.
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Neil W. McCabe is the national political editor of The Star News Network, based in Washington. He is an Army Reserve public affairs NCO and an Iraq War veteran. Send him news tips: [email protected] Follow him on TruthSocial & GETTR: @ReporterMcCabe
Photo “Mike Collins” by Mike Collins. Background Photo “Georgia Capitol” by DXR. CC BY-SA 4.0.