A car dealership near Fort Worth owned by a congressman whose district includes Copperas Cove and parts of Killeen and Fort Hood has benefited from a federal coronavirus relief bill.
Roger Williams Chrysler Dodge Jeep in Weatherford — owned by U.S. Rep. Roger Williams, R-Austin — received funds from the paycheck protection program — part of the coronavirus relief funding passed by Congress, the Dallas Morning News.
Williams serves on the House Financial Services Committee and voted for the relief funding.
The car dealership received a loan “for an undisclosed amount through the fund,” according to the May 1 article in the Morning News.
The dealership through a statement to the news outlet said that “like millions of small businesses across America, our family-owned business was not immune to the economic damage caused by the government’s shelter-in-place orders and the impacts of COVID-19.”
According to the Treasury Department, Williams’ dealership had to meet the same criteria as any business who applied for the first-come, first served loan. Businesses, nonprofits, veterans organizations, and tribal businesses with fewer than 500 employees are eligible for the loan.
“Nothing bars lawmakers from accessing the fund,” according to the article in the Morning News. “But the financial aid for Williams’ company comes as many other small businesses in Texas and beyond have struggled to get loan approval. Crushing demand for the paycheck protection program caused an initial $350 billion in relief to get gobbled up in a matter of days.”
In a statement to the Herald Thursday, Williams defended taking out the loan for his businesses.
“The Paycheck Protection Program was a lifeline for small businesses desperate to save jobs and avoid laying off employees. In the case of our family business, we utilized a PPP loan like millions of other American small businesses so we would not have to tell any one of our dedicated employees they no longer have a job — and today over 100 of our employees are grateful we did,” Williams said. “I strongly supported the oversight provisions in the CARES Act to ensure every dollar is spent in the best interest of taxpayers, and I fought to replenish funds when the program ran dry because every employee in every community is important. Main Street is the heartbeat of our economy and I will always fight to ensure they have the support needed to survive.”
The Morning News received a comment on the matter from Williams’ general election opponent, Democrat Julie Oliver, who said the incumbent has “looked out for big banks and big money for the last seven years.”
“We aren’t surprised when we learn that members of Congress and mega-donors abuse their positions of public trust and power to move to the front of the line, while mom and pop businesses who are hurting in Texas got shut out,” Oliver said in the article.