Appraisal Foundation, Like Khloe Kardashian, Rattled Tin Cup for PPP Alms
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Wearing a scoop-neck black catsuit from her brand’s High Shine Compression line, media personality Khloé Kardashian, whose net worth has been reported at $60 million, turned heads recently at Kendall Jenner’s 818 Tequila launch party in Malibu.
What could this fashionista and socialite have in common with the Appraisal Foundation, an obscure publisher with a government franchise and guaranteed annual grants from a tiny captured federal agency?
In 2020, the Appraisal Foundation, like some members of the Hollywood glitterati, applied for and received federal CARES Act loans – intended as a lifeline to keep small businesses afloat during the early days of the pandemic.
Besides Kardashian, celebrity recipients of PPP money included Reese Witherspoon, whose net worth is reported at $400 million, and Kanye West, reportedly a billionaire. All applied for and received PPP loans, many of which have been forgiven, records show. Even former New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady – net worth $250 million – lined up for the government relief, reported the San Jose Mercury News.
The Paycheck Protection Program cost taxpayers $953 billion. In May 2020, the Appraisal Foundation, with reserves of nearly $8 million in cash and publicly traded securities, applied for and received $270,706 in forgivable federal relief loans through the Small Business Administration – despite the fact that the publisher’s survival and that of its paid panels is literally guaranteed in a federal statute.
The 501(c)(3) publisher also controls a government-sanctioned publishing franchise that allows it to sell copies of its continually changing code of conduct to state-licensed appraisers at monopoly pricing.
Other wealthy organizations have been pilloried for applying for the PPP lifeline. They include Harvard University (with its $39 billion endowment) and the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association (with its reported $3.7 billion valuation). There was also the case of double-dipping state highway contractors in Florida who applied for and received PPP loans despite holding government contracts unaffected by COVID.
The Appraisal Foundation’s grant entitlement, spelled out in the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act of 1989, gives the tiny nonprofit a legal right to a government benefit. The act of Congress also awards the nonprofit a publishing monopoly. Some years, its grant from its obscure federal patron with the tortuous name, the Appraisal Subcommittee of the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council, tops $1 million.
The 14-employee Appraisal Foundation pays its CEO, a long-tenured regulatory entrepreneur named David Bunton, more than the salaries of the Secretary of the Treasury and Chairman of the Federal Reserve combined. In 2020, the most recent year for which the Appraisal Foundation’s IRS Form 990 was available, Bunton reported annual compensation of nearly $500,000. In 2017, a year in which Bunton was said to have been “retired in place” – drawing an internal retirement payout and his CEO salary – he reported more than $760,000 in annual compensation.
Over a recent eight-year period, the tiny nonprofit received $6.5 million in federal grants and parlayed that into $27.6 million in publishing revenue. The chief executive and favored trustees then travelled the globe on junkets to places like Paris, London, Rome and Singapore.
According to its IRS filing, the Appraisal Foundation spent $717,952 on travel alone in pre-pandemic 2019. The foundation also had $1.6 million in cash and $6.3 million in publicly traded equities in reserve. Yet it applied for $270,706 in PPP relief intended to aid small businesses, such as the mom-and-pop appraisal shops coerced at the state level into participating in the foundation’s privately run regulatory regimen.
The latest buzz on Khloé Kardashian? The reality star’s shorts were spotted almost falling off her shrinking hips in a new photo that blew up the Internet over her dramatic weight loss. Meanwhile, small-business proprietors have reported weight loss themselves as they fret over their businesses and the welfare of their yet-to-be-born grandchildren who will be saddled with the $1 trillion PPP debt.