As the coronavirus pandemic enveloped the country in early April, taxpayers shelled out as much as a million dollars to a Dallas company that said it was struggling to keep 100 of its workers employed.
The company’s industry was marked down in federal records as “All Other Miscellaneous Store Retailers (except Tobacco Stores).” In reality, the company, Support American Leaders, is affiliated with a network of fly-by-night political groups that have flooded Americans’ phone lines this year with dubious telemarketing calls asking for donations to support President Donald Trump’s reelection. And there’s little evidence that Support American Leaders directly employs more than a handful of people, if that.
The money that Support American Leaders secured was a forgivable, taxpayer-backed loan worth between $350,000 and $1 million. It came through the Paycheck Protection Program, which was designed to help businesses hit by the coronavirus-induced recession this year. In the months since the loan was approved, at least three political groups associated with the company and its founder, a man named Matthew Tunstall, have raked in hundreds of thousands of dollars more from a months-long telemarketing spree, according to federal campaign finance records. The groups’ phone calls have been so incessant that at least one state has permanently banned one of the groups from calling its residents. The calls ask people for contributions to support Trump and attack his Democratic opponents, but according to campaign finance records, a minuscule percentage of its funds have gone towards actual political activity.