Millionaire House candidate blasts federal relief, but took $154,000 pandemic bailout

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Mike Erickson promises to 'stop the reckless tax-and-spend schemes' after taking PPP funds.

Mike Erickson, the Republican nominee for Oregon's 6th Congressional District, has spent much of his campaign complaining about the "out-of-control" federal budget. But as CEO of a transportation management business, he accepted more than $150,000 in federal pandemic relief funds before demanding "less government spending."

Erickson, the multimillionaire founder and chief executive officer of Portland, Oregon-based AFMS, is running against Democratic state Rep. Andrea Salinas in the newly created district.

"Our nation debt [sic] has surpassed $31 trillion," he wrote in a Facebook post on Oct. 21. "Instead of electing more leaders who will put us further into debt, we need to elect more fiscal conservatives who will fix our economy and stop the reckless tax-and-spend schemes."

In a post in August, Erickson wrote: "In these tough financial times, one of my top priorities is bringing fiscal responsibility back to the halls of Congress. The Left's out-of-control spending has been detrimental to Oregon families, and I'm looking to restore fiscal sanity and deliver economic relief."

"Poor leadership in DC has led to out-of-control government spending and sky-high inflation rates," he tweeted in April. "These actions are hurting families and devastating small businesses — the heart of our economy in OR. As your Congressman, I will lead us back to prosperity and unity."

Experts say that federal spending has not been the main driver of inflation, which they instead attribute in large part to global supply chain troubles, the coronavirus pandemic, and Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Erickson opposed the Inflation Reduction Act, which invested $369 billion in energy and climate change infrastructure while lowering the nation's budget deficit by hundreds of billions of dollars.

In August he attacked President Joe Biden's plan to forgive some student loan debt for individuals making less than $125,000, calling it a "bailout" and objecting, "With a possible cost of nearly $1 trillion, Biden's solution does nothing to try to lower the actual cost of tuition."

But Erickson has not been critical of the roughly $800 billion Paycheck Protection Program, which provided forgivable loans to businesses in 2020 to help them keep employees on the payroll during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to a ProPublica database, Erickson's company took a $154,000 PPP loan in April 2020 to support its nine-member staff. The entire amount, plus $2,122 in interest, was forgiven by the government.

Erickson's 2022 personal financial disclosure statement indicates that his own annual salary for 2021 and 2022 was $250,000. He reported a net worth of at least $32 million, including a boat worth more than $1 million and a rental property business worth more than $25 million.

The Erickson campaign did not immediately respond to an inquiry for this story.

Erickson is one of several Republican candidates across the country who are railing against federal government spending and student loan forgiveness programs after benefiting from PPP funds for their own businesses.

Erickson is also one of a number of Republican figures who say they oppose abortion rights but have allegedly paid for abortions. In 2008, during an unsuccessful campaign for Congress, he admitted to giving an ex-girlfriend $300 and driving her to a doctor's office, though he denied knowing the money was to pay for an abortion.

Salinas, who supports the right to abortion, is running on a promise to "build an economy that works for all," including guaranteeing "affordable and accessible healthcare" for everyone and promoting policies "to level the playing field and provide opportunities for a strong working class and good-paying jobs."

The Cook Political Report rates the race a toss-up.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.