Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Tapping the Paycheck Protection Program for $126M

Braemar Rings Opening Bell on NYSE (Stefani Carter on left)

You may remember Stefani Carter. The former Texas state representative for parts of Richardson, swept into office in the 2010 tea party wave. The ambitious politician who attempted to climb to statewide office (Texas Railroad Commission) in 2014 only to discover that the moneyed interests had other candidates in mind. Who scrambled back to her legislative race in north Texas but lost her seat anyway when even GOP voters abandoned her for Linda Koop. All that was covered by The Wheel back in the day. Well, Stefani Carter is back in the news, or at least her business is.

According to The Dallas Morning News:
A Dallas group of publicly traded hotel companies described as the Paycheck Protection Program’s biggest beneficiary says it’s keeping $126 million in coronavirus hardship loans to help put its thousands of employees back to work.
Ashford and two real estate investment trusts that it advises, Ashford Hospitality Trust and Braemar Hotels & Resorts, collectively applied for $126 million for 130 hotels and luxury resorts across the country that employed 14,000 people.

All three are headed by Dallas hotelier Monty J. Bennett. The companies had combined revenue of $2.2 billion last year. They sought PPP loans for each hotel location with 500 or fewer employees.
What does this have to do with Stefani Carter? Note that since 2013 Carter has served on the Board of Directors of Braemar Hotels & Resorts, Inc., one of Monty Bennett's companies named in the DMN story. Note also that 2013 was while Carter supposedly represented the voters and taxpayers of Richardson in the Texas state legislature.

How did Carter end up on one of Monty Bennett's boards? Well, go back and read those old articles in The Wheel. It has something to do with Monty Bennett being something like a billionaire version of Tiger King. Long story short:
Ashford Hospitality Prime's CEO and Chairman Monty Bennett owns an exotic wildlife ranch in east Texas. The Tarrant Regional Water District (TRWD) wanted to build a pipeline from east Texas to supply water for north Texas. TRWD's pipeline might have crossed Bennett's ranch. Who knows, maybe Bennett figured having a state legislator on his board of directors, one with ambitions to serve on the Texas Railroad Commission, couldn't hurt his efforts to keep a water pipeline away from his exotic wildlife. In any case, Stefani Carter ended up on his hotel company's board of directors. And she took a personal interest in the plans for a water pipeline across the CEO's ranch.
Source: The Wheel.
To bring this full circle, Monty Bennett is also a big campaign contributor to Donald Trump, who just happens to be the President who signed the law that made that $126M available to billion-dollar corporations like Monty Bennett's. Funny how that works. I wonder if Bennett's exotic wildlife ranch in east Texas has a swamp on it. If there is a swamp, Stefani Carter can't be far away.