Shelley Luther, the Texas hair salon owner who received national attention for defying orders to keep her shop temporarily closed during the coronavirus pandemic, admitted on Monday morning that she had received $18,000 in stimulus funds days before her fateful court appearance.
Luther became a conservative hero when she was briefly jailed last week following her refusal to apologize to a Texas judge after she was found guilty of civil and criminal contempt for violating a temporary restraining order by keeping her shop open despite stay-at-home orders. Sentenced to seven days in jail and a $7,000 fine, Luther was quickly freed by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and her fine was paid by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.
Appearing on the popular ABC talk show The View, Luther was confronted on her previous claims that she violated the state’s shelter-in-place orders because she and her shop’s stylists were facing financial hardships.
“You applied for small business loans and unemployment, and you did receive some aid from the government,” co-host Sunny Hostin noted. “You received $18,000 from the government.”
“So I understand why people feel so strongly about going back to work because they feel that the government isn’t doing its job and taking care of people, but in this instance, two days before you went to court, the money went into your account,” Hostin added. “So I’m troubled by that.”
Luther replied that she could understand why the View host “would be troubled” before claiming that she didn’t know what to do with the money she applied for and received through the Paycheck Protection Program.
“What happened was I already had the court date, and I already had been open the entire time,” the salon owner asserted. “There was $18,000 dropped in my bank account with no notice of what it was. So I get no instructions.”
Saying that she thinks the money is from “one of the loans,” Luther went on to claim that she doesn’t “know how I’m supposed to spend it,” adding that she is aware that there are a number of regulations and guidelines that come with the funds.
“I didn’t want to put myself in deeper debt by spending it the wrong way, you know, and also having to close the salon,” Luther said. “So until I got further instruction on that, I didn’t want to spend it.”
“And giving me $18,000 to spend when my stylists aren’t actual employees of mine, they’re actually subleasing,” she concluded. “So I wasn’t sure if I was even able to give them any of that money as employees because I don’t pay them.”
Besides the widespread adulation she received from the right over her defiance of stay-at-home orders, which included praise from President Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) flying in for a haircut at her salon, Luther was also the beneficiary of a GoFundMe campaign that raised more than $500,000 on her behalf.
Texas Monthly, however, recently reported that the crowdfunding effort for Luther, which labeled her an “American hero,” was actually created back on April 23, one day before she reopened her salon. The campaign organizer wrote that they “researched her and her cause” and decided that “we would approach her and offer to support her as our first patriot cause.”