Webster Barnaby
BEACON PHOTO/MARSHA MCLAUGHLIN Rep. Webster Barnaby speaking at the opening of a new HVAC program at Pine Ridge High School in Deltona, July 28.

Under scrutiny because he sought and received a five-figure federal loan for his private business, Florida Rep. Webster Barnaby, R-Deltona, denies he acted illegally or improperly.

“I am a businessman, and I’ve owned this business for years,” Barnaby told The Beacon in a telephone interview March 30. “Everything I did was legal.”

In recent days, published reports have noted Barnaby’s receipt of a $33,542 Paycheck Protection Program loan in 2020 and the forgiveness of the loan, along with $400 interest, last year. The PPP loan was given for Barnaby’s company, known as Selling Connections Unlimited LLC. 

Asked about the firm’s business or activities, Barnaby replied, “Marketing.” He did not elaborate on the type of marketing in which the company deals or specializes. 

Public records show Selling Connections Unlimited LLC’s address is the same as Barnaby’s home address. 

According to the City of Deltona, Barnaby does not have a city business license to operate his business out of his home, but he argued this was not uncommon.

“There are thousands of Mom-and-Pop businesses like mine that do not have a permission slip,” Barnaby said. “I’ve never had anyone from the city query me about my LLC.”

The federally approved loan was made by Wells Fargo under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, a $2.2 trillion stimulus bill passed by the Congress and signed by President Donald Trump in March 2020. The measure was enacted to soften the economic blows resulting from government-mandated business closings and layoffs of workers, while businesses, though closed or slowed down, still incurred overhead expenses. Many businesses also incurred additional expenses for extra cleaning of their premises to guard against the spread of the deadly virus and for providing such items as masks, antiseptic wipes and hand sanitizers for customers or clients.

“I legally applied for the loan, as any other small businessman who qualified was allowed to do,” Barnaby said. “Then I legally applied at the time appointed for loan forgiveness, and my application was accepted.”

Barnaby’s PPP loan was approved April 30, 2020, and it was forgiven Aug. 9, 2021, according to the website known as PPP Detective.

“Before the pandemic, my income was about $200,000 a year,” he continued. “My income went down to $137,000 because I decided to serve the people. I applied for the loan for utilities and payroll, and my loan was forgiven.”

As a member of the Florida House of Representatives, Barnaby receives an annual salary of $29,687.   

The website known as ProPublica, which provides information on those who have acquired PPP loans, notes Selling Connections Unlimited has two employees. The site also notes the loan was used for “payroll.”

As for why his loan was forgiven rather quickly while other minority-owned business owners are still waiting to have their loans written off, Barnaby said the reporting and application requirements are quite stringent.

“If you did not complete the paperwork completely, then there may be problems. Everything is checked and rechecked,” he said. 

Barnaby was first elected in 2020 to represent Florida House District 27. He succeeded David Santiago, also a Deltona Republican, who could not run for re-election because of term limits. This year, because of state reapportionment, Barnaby is running against neighboring House District 26 Rep. Elizabeth Fetterhoff, R-DeLand, for the right to represent the newly drawn House District 29. 

“I have done nothing untoward. There is nothing shady,” Barnaby concluded.

2 COMMENTS

  1. When they say there’s nothing shady, there’s usually something shady.
    Like, Webster Barnaby stated here that the money was used for payroll AND utilities, however PPP detective shows he stated the money was used for payroll only. Also in this interview it stated Barnaby’s income went down because he choose to “serve the people” not due to the Corona virus, so does every legislator get PPP money because they choose to “serve the people” and make less money?

  2. How does a company valued at $21,000, yes read rep Barnaby’s financial disclosure to the ethics committee get a $34,000 PPP loan, I think there needs to be more research on this. I also heard he’s starting to threaten the other rep in this race.

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