Feds Forgive $1 Million+ in Pandemic Loans to Top Anti-Vaxxers
The Paycheck Protection Program was supposed to help small businesses survive the pandemic. The feds instead granted free cash to Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s anti-vaccine empire.
Talk about a sick deal.
The Small Business Administration has given anti-vaccine conspiracists a million-dollar-plus shot in the arm by forgiving massive loans to top opponents of inoculations, a review by The Daily Beast revealed. Ironically, this infusion has come via the Paycheck Protection Program, intended to relieve the economic strain brought on by the pandemic—the same pandemic that rampant disinformation about anti-COVID-19 injections now threatens to prolong.
The beneficiaries of the SBA’s repayment amnesty include the Children’s Health Defense Co, founded and chaired by Robert F. Kennedy Jr., perhaps the most famous anti-vaccine advocate in America. Kennedy did not respond immediately to a request for comment, but public records show that the federal government forgave a PPP loan worth $145,399, plus more than a thousand dollars in interest, in March of this year.
Kennedy, scion of a legendary political dynasty, has used his inherited fame to propagate discredited conspiracy theories linking vaccinations to everything from food allergies to autism to cancer. Last September found him palling around with German adherents of the QAnon cult, who believe that a cabal of Satan-worshipping pedophiles control multiple national governments.
Kennedy also penned the foreword to Plague of Corruption, a book co-written by the infamous Dr. Judy Mikovits, star of the documentary “Plandemic,” which makes numerous false claims about the origin of the novel coronavirus, the safety of masks, and the conduct of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci. The Children’s Health Defense Co. was involved in the publishing and promotion of the book, and its logo appears on its cover.
Kennedy has used the organization to advance other bizarre ideas about COVID-19, publishing an article on its website last year warning of Microsoft founder Bill Gates’ “globalist vaccine agenda.” Two months before the feds forgave his group’s PPP loan, he insinuated on Twitter that the Moderna jab had killed baseball icon Hank Aaron.
But Kennedy is far from the only unhinged anti-vaxxer to receive the SBA’s grace. Osteopathic physician Dr. Sherri Tenpenny, who went viral last month for testifying to the Ohio state legislature that the COVID-19 vaccine had “magnetized” people through some alchemy involving 5G towers, also saw her alternative medical practice’s $72,500 loan forgiven in April.
Tenpenny has peddled debunked studies about vaccine safety since at least the mid-2000s. She also did not respond to a request for comment.
However, another osteopathic physician, Dr. Joseph Mercola—who has made himself a hundred-millionaire hawking unproven health supplements—had plenty to say when The Daily Beast contacted him about the nearly half-million dollars in PPP loans two of his companies received. The SBA forgave the loans this spring.
“I would encourage you to carefully review the PPP loan application as I could not find anywhere that one must profess undying loyalty and adherence to vaccine propaganda,” Mercola wrote in an email to The Daily Beast.
Mercola, whom the Food and Drug Administration reprimanded in March for marketing fake COVID-19 “cures,” is correct at least on this one point: the PPP forgiveness program is agnostic about the kind of work applicants do. Rather, it requires only that employee compensation remain constant, 60 percent of the borrowed funds go toward payroll, and the remainder toward other approved expenses.
The SBA declined to comment for this article.
The Daily Beast received no response from Ronnie Cummins, who co-authored a book with Mercola—with another foreword from Kennedy—earlier this year propounding the “Great Reset” conspiracy theory, which alleges the COVID-19 lockdowns are a prelude to a new regime of government and corporate control. Cummins’ vaccine-skeptical Organic Consumers Association had its $165,400 PPP loan forgiven last November.
Ditto the National Vaccine Information Center, which has received millions of dollars from Mercola and promoted his webpage, which this past month got absolved of $137,646 in PPP debt.
Another anti-vaccine beneficiary was TTAC Publishing, which saw a quarter-million dollar PPP loan forgiven on Jan. 8—two days after its disinformation-boosting founders Ty and Charlene Bollinger rallied at the U.S. Capitol against the certification of President Joe Biden’s election victory. And psychiatrist Dr. Kelly Brogan, a former contributor to Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop and promoter of COVID-19 and vaccine conspiracy theories, saw her Miami-based practice’s PPP debt erased at the close of 2020. Neither Brogan nor the Bollingers responded to requests for comment.