There is an interesting controversy brewing in Nevada over stimulus money and morality. Bella Cummins is the owner of a lawful small business who initially refused an emergency loan under the pandemic stimulus money. The reason? Her business is a brothel. The CARES Act makes no distinction between moral and immoral businesses so long as they are lawful (and such a distinction in my view would challengeable). Brothels are lawful in Nevada. Yet, Cummins was eventually allowed to apply for the loan but there are objections to giving stimulus money to an over-stimulating business.
Cummins has allowed her workers to remain on the property at Bella’s Hacienda Ranch in Wells, Nevada. Her business was deemed nonessential. While some might disagree, that distinction seems perfectly reasonable. However, that still leaves the fact that when she went to Nevada State Bank to apply for an emergency loan from the Small Business Administration the bank balked.
Given social distancing rules, this is one business that will face the greatest delay and downturn in recovering from the pandemic. Social distancing would seem the antithesis of the business model of a brothel.
Since applying for federal help earlier this week, the SBA has notified Cummins that her application to the Paycheck Protection Program for some $70,000 has been approved. However, she was then told by the bank that the funds were put on hold. It is not clear if that is based on the nature of her business or simply a pause in the program.
The question remains about the objections and whether there will be a move to limit future loans. In my view, such restrictions would be arbitrary and discriminatory. As many on this blog know, I have been a long critic of morality legislation. This is simply another variation in forcing citizens to adhere to majoritarian morals in my view if the loan is denied or the regulations changed on the basis of the business.