The Idaho Lieutenant Governor who in July criticized those who take handouts from the government received more than $300,000 in federal coronavirus relief loans just three months before, it has been revealed.
Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin, 57, received $314,727 through two different loans for one of her businesses under the Paycheck Protection Program in April.
Yet in the summer, she wrote a scathing op-ed claiming that federal spending was not the way to save the economy and called on Idaho lawmakers not to ‘foster dependency’ with further payouts.
McGeachin has defended her decision to apply for and accept the loans, stating that she was given no choice as she blasted the lockdowns implemented by Gov. Brad Little.
She has been a vocal critic of closures caused by the pandemic and in October, featured in a viral video in which some lawmakers questioned if coronavirus existed.
Republican Idaho Lt. Governor Janice McGeachin, pictured left, accepted two federal PPP loans in April despite being a vocal critic of government handouts and ‘unearned income’
McGeichan has been a vocal critic of closures caused by the pandemic and in October, featured in a viral video in which some lawmakers questioned if coronavirus existed
McGeichin is an onwner or co-owner of several businesses including Idaho Transmission Warehouse, pictured above. The loans went to J.R. McGeachin Inc and used this address
The money McGeachin received went to J.R. McGeachin Inc. with one loan amounting to $281,853.40 and the other at $32,873.47.
The address listed for the loans was her Idaho Falls-based wholesale transmission-parts business, Idaho Transmission Warehouse.
McGeachin also owns or co-owns several other businesses including the bar The Celt Pub & Grill in Idaho Falls.
Details about the loans were published following a court-ordered nationwide release on Tuesday night with McGeachin rushing to defend herself Thursday as criticism came in.
‘Like many small business owners, our family businesses have been harmed significantly by the heavy hand of government in 2020,’ McGeachin wrote Thursday in a Facebook post.
‘In order to keep as many of our employees on staff as possible, we took advantage of the partial restitution made available through the PPP. The money provided represents just a small fraction of the revenue lost, of course.’
According to the data released Tuesday, the first loan allowed McGeachin’s business to protect 28 jobs with the second protecting seven. They were both received on April 28.
McGeachin received far above the average amount for a business in Idaho under the program.
The Idaho Statesman reports that the average loan was worth $83,619; the median $22,030. Idaho businesses in general received loans that ranged from $100 to $10million.
The criticism for McGeachin came after she wrote an op-ed in July blasting those calling for more government handouts and other forms of ‘unearned income’, accusing them of wanting to ‘foster dependency’.
In the article titled ‘For some, more is never enough,’ McGeachin claimed that ‘there really is no amount of spending that would satisfy’ people who hope for ‘socialized medicine, unearned income and other handouts’.
‘The solution to difficult times is not to increase the size, scope and spending of government, but to decrease these things and to put our resources in the hands of the private sector where they can grow and prosper,’ she wrote.
Republican Idaho Lt. Governor Janice McGeachin is reported to have used the money to save over 30 jobs at her businesses although remains a critic of federal spending
Lt Gov. McGeachin defended her decision to apply for and accept the loans on Facebook
McGeachin also owns The Celt Pub and Grill in Idaho Falls
Idaho Transmission Warehouse where McGeachin’s loans were addressed to
‘Reducing the taxes, regulations and mandates that stand in the way of people earning money through hard work and entrepreneurial endeavors is always a superior alternative to increasing subsidies and handouts.
‘Together, we can get Idaho back to work and move away from debt-financed spending and other programs that foster dependency,’ she concluded.
She continued to be an outspoken critic of financial support from the government on Thursday even after the public became aware of her loans.
‘In a truly free market devoid of government lockdowns and other mandates, our businesses would be operating as normal and our employees’ incomes would be secure,’ she said on her Facebook post.
‘We would certainly prefer not to need PPP loans. Let us work toward a brighter future where freedom is prioritized over fear and government restrictions and programs designed to counter their harmful effects are not necessary.’
In July, McGeachin wrote the op-ed above in which she claimed handouts ‘foster dependency’
McGeachin, pictured center with Don Trump Jr. and Kimberly Guilfoyle, is a staunch Trump supporter and has touted discredited claims about how the state can respond to it
McGeachin has been a critic of the Gov. Little’s pandemic orders and has attended several rallies to protest them.
In contrast to Little’s phased reopening strategy, McGeachin has consistently argued for a looser approach despite the current rise in infections.
Yet, the governor still appointed McGeachin to his Coronavirus Financial Advisory Committee in April, a committee created to guide the spending of the $1.2 billion Idaho received from Congress for coronavirus relief.
Some of her proposals about how to spend the money raised concern late last month, however, after she suggested funneling millions of the state’s CARES Act funds into the development of ‘walk-through disinfectant cubes’.
McGeachin, a staunch Trump supporter, pushed the discredited idea that coronavirus can be stopped by disinfecting, when it is in fact a respiratory disease spread mostly through coughing, talking, breathing, and sneezing of infected persons.
‘The possibility of looking at some very high-tech equipment that’s been developed by businesses and people that are also using their God-given gifts to develop this technology that a person can walk through a cube and be disinfected from head to toe, including on the bottom of their feet,’ McGeachin claimed.
New daily cases of coronavirus are hitting new highs in Idaho in the past month
Deaths from COVID in the state are also increasing with a record 35 a day reported this week
In October, McGeachin also went viral after being filmed with a handgun and a Bible in the front seat of her car as part of a video in which state lawmakers question the existence of the coronavirus.
Those taking part in the video, produced by a libertarian group called the Idaho Freedom Foundation, pledged to ignore any restrictions imposed by the state as part of a ‘declaration’ against coronavirus measures.
It featured various Idaho Republican lawmakers all taking turns to read lines from a declaration which claims to have been ‘ratified by the people of Idaho October 1st, 2020.’
‘We recognize that all of us by nature are free and equal and have certain inalienable rights among which are enjoying and defending life and liberty, acquiring, possessing and protecting property, and pursuing happiness and protecting safety,’ McGeachin states as she speaks from her truck.
McGeachin, pictured right, has claimed disinfectant booths can stop the COVID spread
Meanwhile, Idaho is currently experiencing record-breaking numbers of new daily cases.
There have been 106,455 infections in the state with 1,022 deaths.
The latest figures on Thursday shows an increase of 1,699 new infections – the second-most in a single day during the COVID-19 pandemic. There were 21 new deaths reported Thursday.
This week, the state already reached a record 97 deaths with still two days to go. On Wednesday, the Gem State added a single-day record 35 new deaths from COVID-19
The state’s positivity rate has dropped slightly from a record 19.2 percent two weeks ago to 18.3 percent.
Last month, Little announced he would again limit gatherings of 50 or more people.
‘I sincerely hope that some people have passed the point of thinking the pandemic is not real or is not a big deal, or that their personal actions don’t really affect anything,’ Little said during a news conference on Monday.
Little announced that the state would move back to Stage 3 of its coronavirus reopening plan.
That phase allows businesses to remain open and in-person church services to continue but limits gatherings of 50 people or more.
Idaho Gov. Brad Little has pushed the state back into COVID restrictions as cases rise
McGeachin criticized the move and called for the restrictions to be lifted
McGeachin pushed back on her Facebook page, saying she was ‘disappointed’ in the governor’s decision.
‘Respecting individual liberty and property rights must remain the foundation of all policy decisions in our state,’ she wrote.
‘Instead of working with stakeholders to implement strategies to expand our treatment capacity, our state is moving towards more top-down control over our businesses and citizens.
‘We should be supporting Main Street right now, not adopting the draconian tactics of liberal municipalities that have only proven to make matters worse.’
McGeachin previously served in the Idaho state legislature for a decade before working on a statewide committee to elect President Trump and serving as a delegate to the 2016 Republican National Convention.
Two years ago, she was elected Idaho’s first female lieutenant governor.
The Paycheck Protection Program offered money to employers in April under the $2.2 trillion coronavirus aid bill passed by Congress in March.
The emergency scheme allowed businesses to apply for loans that would be forgiven if they could show that most of the money was spent on payroll. The aim was to keep as many workers as possible on the job.
Other elected officials in Idaho also received loans under the program, the Idaho Statesman reports, including state Rep. Joe Palmer who got $10,300 in PPP loans for his consignment store and State Sen. Mary Souza who received a $66,900 PPP loan for her event-planning business.