GOP candidate's businesses got $7.8M in pandemic loans

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Sixteen businesses associated with gubernatorial candidate Republican Jim Pillen received about $7.8 million in federal loans during the pandemic and later returned over $5 million of that.

The loans were part of the Paycheck Protection Program that was created to help businesses during the coronavirus pandemic. The Omaha World-Herald reports that 114,684 loans worth a total of $5.39 billion were granted to Nebraska businesses.

Documents filed with the federal Small Business Administration show that Pillen Family Farms got the loans to support 1,057 jobs.

Sarah Pillen, who is co-CEO of the Columbus-based company, said the loans helped the business keep employees at a time when the spread of the virus disrupted the meatpacking industry by forcing a number of processing plants to close.

Sarah Pillen said the businesses were contending with lost revenue from not being able to sell livestock and ongoing costs of caring for the animals.

Sarah Pillen said the businesses returned $5.08 million that they received and the loans were forgiven under the terms of the program.

Gov. Pete Ricketts said businesses throughout the state were encouraged to apply for the loans.

“Just like everyone else, the Pillens were entitled to apply for this help,” Ricketts said. “I applaud them for going above and beyond and repaying a large portion of their PPP, even when most of these loans are forgiven.”

The World-Herald didn’t find any loans linked to businesses associated with any of the other announced candidates for governor or Ricketts.