At Least 2 Private Jet Companies Founded Or Owned By Trump Donors Got $20M-$27M Covid-19 Bailouts

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Written by Dana Sanchez
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Private jet companies Clay Lacy and Jet Linx, whose founders or owners made big donations to Donald Trump, got huge covid-19 bailouts. Pictured is Hershel Clay Lacy, founder and
former CEO of Clay Lacy Aviation. Photo: Nick Gray/Flickr/shared under a Creative Commons license.

Clay Lacy Aviation and Jet Linx Aviation, whose founders or owners made big donations to Donald Trump and the Republicans ahead of the 2016 election, received $27 million and $20 million respectively in taxpayer money from the federal bailout package.

The money they received was grants — money they don’t have to give back, funded by the taxpayers.

Clay Lacy, based in Van Nuys, California, serves wealthy executives and celebrities. It received the government grant as part of the CARES Act, a $3 trillion federal stimulus package aimed at supporting jobs during the coronavirus crisis.

The company appears to have received the largest grant of any private jet company on the list, CNBC reported.

Clay Lacy Aviation claims to have 530 employees.

“The amounts given to each company are determined by their employment, according to Treasury guidelines. So the $27 million would be equal to the compensation Clay Lacy said it paid in compensation in 2019,” CNBC reported.

Hershel Clay Lacy, the founder and former CEO, gave $2,700 to the Trump campaign in 2016 — the maximum allowed by an individual — and he gave $47,000 to the Republican National Committee after Trump became the nominee, according to election filings.

A spokesperson at the Treasury Department said in an email to CNBC, “Political affiliation has absolutely no bearing on the Payroll Support Program, including applicant eligibility, the amount of assistance provided, or use of funds.”

Jet Linx is based in Omaha, Nebraska. John Denny Carreker, a principal owner, and his wife, Connie, gave $68,100 to Trump’s campaign, the RNC and the Trump Victory Committee between October 2015 and November 2016, Federal Election Commission filings show, according to ProPublica.

The goal of giving grants to the airline industry is to compensate aviation industry workers and preserve jobs.

Jet Linx claims to have 450 employees, ProPublica reported.

Most of the $25 billion in CARES Act money for the airline industry went to commercial or regional carriers. American, Delta, United and Southwest got almost $19.5 billion — more than 75 percent of the total allotted for the passenger airline industry.

But about 70 private charter companies got CARES Act funds as of April 27, according to the first round of disclosures of 96 recipients published this week. That represents 3.5 percent of the 2,000-or-so private jet companies operating in the U.S., as compiled by Private Jet Card Comparisons, an independent buyer’s guide, ProPublica reported. Those 70 private charter airlines got about $157 million in taxpayer money.

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The average grant amount for the 70 private jet companies was $2.2 million — about a tenth of what Jet Linx and Clay Lacy each received.

Jet Linx and Clay Lacy are ranked fifth and 11th respectively in the industry for hours logged in 2019, according to flight tracking firm Argus Traqpak.

Companies that earned at least half their revenue last year by flying people from place to place could apply for grants from the special program in the CARES Act designed to cover payroll and worker benefits. The size of the grants companies received is supposed to be based on how much they paid their employees in salary and benefits between April and September of 2019, ProPublica reported.