Outlets criticize Biden ad for not mentioning PPP loans. The small business featured bears the brunt of online harassment.
In the ad, the small business owner in Philadelphia says she had to furlough some of her staff and shut down one location of her eye wear stores because of the pandemic.
“I had to permanently close one location and furlough my employees,” business owner Tiffany Easley says in the ad, which posted on July 1. “But what’s worse is that this President seemed to make everything else worse.”
“Trump and his administration left the American people behind,” she says in the ad. “The people that he is supposed to protect and serve. Small businesses — they need a partner in the White House, and that’s why I’m with Joe.”
In an interview with CNN, Easley said she never claimed she had received no loans or government aid. “I didn’t hide it; it was never a secret,” she said, noting that she had publicly disclosed the loan in several media interviews that appeared before the ad was posted.
Easley told CNN that her criticism of Trump was not about loans but the lack of information or a clear plan for how to address the pandemic. “It had nothing to do with money at all — it was all about the human aspect of actually really [caring] about the American people,” she said.
“I stand strong behind what I said,” she told CNN. “I don’t feel that I lied about anything; I felt that I was very honest and open,” Easley said, noting that she was “the one who made the [loan] public. No one would have known about it if I wouldn’t have made it public.”
Some users posted her business’s phone number for people to call and “let her know how you feel about her lying for Biden!” Easley says she disabled her business’s Facebook page due to the onslaught of harassment.
Since the ad came out, Easley says, she has received more than 200 phone calls at her business of people yelling “just hateful things” toward her including “making idle threats about burning” her business down. According to Easley, she also had to work to get a barrage of fake Google reviews taken down in order for her rating to be restored to five stars.
Disclosing the loan
She said to Biden that she was “most afraid for my staff coming back. … They’re more afraid to come back and contract the virus and take it back to their newborn babies.”
Easley told CNN that the PPP loan and grant helped cover her employees’ salaries for eight weeks but that she had to cover the rest, including rent and other expenses, with her savings as well as their salaries after the eight weeks ended.
“So what do I do when I don’t have any more PPP?” she said during the June roundtable with Biden. “I can’t fire my employees, because that’s my team. … What do I do when they have to stay home but I still have to open, and I don’t have any more funds to be able to pay them to stay out?”