Fact Check

Did Ben Shapiro Get PPP Loan Forgiveness?

Today we found out how many real estate agents in California are named "Ben Shapiro."

Published Aug 25, 2022

Conservative political commentator, writer and lawyer Ben Shapiro waves to the crowd as he arrives to speak at the 2018 Politicon in Los Angeles, California on October 21, 2018. - The two day event covers all things political with dozens of high profile political figures. (Photo by Mark RALSTON / AFP)        (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP via Getty Images) (Getty Images)
Image Via Getty Images
Conservative commentator Ben Shapiro received $20,832 in PPP loan forgiveness.

Fact Check

In late August 2022, the internet was awash in heated commentary abut the Biden administration's plan to forgive some federal student loan debt.

For example, after conservative commentator Ben Shapiro voiced his opinion against student loan forgiveness, others clapped back with an accusation that he himself had received a federal loan that was later forgiven. The viral news site Uproxx, for example, published a headline that read, "Student Loan Debt Forgiveness Hater Ben Shapiro Got His Ass Handed To Him By Someone Who Pointed Out That He Had Over $20K Of PPP Loan Debt Forgiven."

Many on social media shared a partial screenshot from a database tracking Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans provided by the non-profit news agency ProPublica.

Here is one example from Twitter, with the Twitter user's name cropped out for privacy:

Business Card, Text, Paper

The ProPublica database entry has much more information that would make it clear that the "Ben Shapiro" in question is not Ben Shapiro the commentator. The person with that name who received $20,832 in PPP loans is a Los Angeles real estate agent. We reached out to real estate agent Ben Shapiro for comment, and will update this story if and when we receive a response.

We searched both the U.S. Small Business Association's PPP database and ProPublica's database to see whether Shapiro's network of websites (The Daily Wire) received any PPP money and found no evidence that they did. We reached out to Daily Wire Editor-in-Chief John Bickley and will update when and if we receive a response.

Shapiro called the allegation a "lie" in a Twitter post responding to the rumor:

There is additional context to this controversy, namely that the loans in question are very different in purpose and structure.

PPP loans were given out during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns, with the intent of preventing businesses from shedding employees or going under. They were designed to be forgiven — that is, if businesses used the money to pay workers and bills like rent and utilities, they didn't have to pay the loan back, and their debt would be considered satisfied. (Snopes received PPP money). Student loans, on the other hand, were designed to fund higher education, with the expectation that they would be paid back in full.

Bethania Palma is a journalist from the Los Angeles area who started her career as a daily newspaper reporter and has covered everything from crime to government to national politics. She has written for ... read more