The Lever: Trump donors get bailout, but thousands of truckers get layoffs

In a case of corporate welfare at its worst, The Lever is reporting that a politically-connected private equity firm that owns a huge chunk of the debt of one of America’s largest trucking companies is set to get at least some financial protection from the government, while tens of thousands of workers are being laid off.

The report identified the trucking company as J.B. Hunt Transport Services, which filed for bankruptcy protection on June 29. The company owes over $14 billion in debt, and it is unclear whether it will be able to emerge from bankruptcy without a government bailout.

One of J.B. Hunt’s biggest creditors is Apollo Global Management, a private equity firm that has donated millions of dollars to Republican politicians, including former President Donald Trump.

Apollo owns about $2.5 billion of J.B. Hunt’s debt, and it is likely to get a significant portion of that debt repaid by the government if the transportation and logistics company receives a bailout.

Meanwhile, the workers who are being laid off from J.B. Hunt are getting nothing from the government. Many of these workers are already struggling to make ends meet, and they will now be facing even more financial hardship.

This case is a clear example of how corporate welfare often comes at the expense of ordinary working people. The government is willing to bail out wealthy investors, but it is not willing to help the workers who are actually creating the wealth.

In 2017, Apollo loaned $184 million to Kushner Companies, the family real estate firm of Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, to refinance a mortgage on a Chicago skyscraper.

The Trump Securities and Exchange Commission, chaired by finance industry lawyer Jay Clayton, dropped an investigation into Apollo weeks after the company extended the loan to Kushner. After Trump left office, Clayton became the lead independent director of Apollo.

This story is also a reminder of the importance of campaign finance reform. As long as politicians are beholden to wealthy donors, they will be more likely to make decisions that benefit those donors, even if it hurts ordinary people.

“Apollo Global Management was able to use its political connections to get a sweetheart deal from the government that will protect politically-connected private equity firm’s profits,” said Lisa McCormick, who was a candidate for US Senate in New Jersey’s 2018 Democratic primary, “The government will do nothing to help the workers who are being laid off from J.B. Hunt.”

“Democrats are also part of the problem. The firm’s employees gave $16,740 to President Joe Biden, $40,800 to President Barack Obama, and $9,350 to Hillary Clinton,” said McCormick. “The firm’s employees also provided cash to US Senator Cory Booker, who accepted $109,300; US Representative Josh Gottheimer, who got $84,150; US Senator Bob Menendez, who took $52,100; and US Representative Donald Norcross, who got $5,500.”

The New Jersey Democratic State Committee received $2,100 from a firm employee, according to McCormick, who has called for legislation that would outlaw bribery and reform the entire political campaign financing system in America.

“The corrosive influence of dirty money is a pervasive problem in America that has corrupted both parties,” said McCormick.

Apollo’s vast empire has some of the best-known companies in its portfolio. Among theo brands that Apollo also owns are Chuck E Cheese, Claire’s, CEVA Logistics, McGraw-Hill Education, Norwegian Cruise Line, Yahoo! and AOL.

Other notable companies in which funds managed by the company have invested are ADT Inc., Barnes & Noble, CareerBuilder, Cox Media Group, Intrado, Legendary Entertainment, Rackspace, Redbox, Shutterfly, Sirius Satellite Radio, Qdoba, Smart & Final, and University of Phoenix.

As of 2022, the company had $548 billion of assets under management, including $392 billion invested in credit, including mezzanine capital, hedge funds, non-performing loans, and collateralized loan obligations, $99 billion invested in private equity, and $46.2 billion invested in real assets, which includes real estate and infrastructure.

This is just one example of how the system is rigged in favor of the wealthy and powerful. We need to change the system so that it works for everyone, not just the few.

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