MEA settles frivolous lawsuit filed by right-wing ‘think tank’

EAST LANSING — Today, a federal seal was lifted and a settlement announced regarding a frivolous, politically-motivated lawsuit brought against MEA by a right-wing “think tank” with a decades-long record of attacking public school educators and their unions.

In April 2020, at the outset of the pandemic, MEA applied for and received a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan – a step taken by thousands of independent businesses to ensure employees could continue to be paid during an unprecedented time of uncertainty. Based on the rules published by the federal government at the time, MEA believed we were fully eligible for the PPP program, and our bank agreed.

However, as time went on and financial uncertainties faded, MEA repaid the loan with interest (totaling $6,461,876) in December 2020.

More than a year after that full repayment, the Mackinac Center filed a frivolous lawsuit claiming MEA knowingly violated the law in applying for the PPP loan. The facts clearly do not back up those claims, which have more to do with the Mackinac Center’s political agenda than principles of truth or justice.

For decades, the Mackinac Center and its funders – including Betsy DeVos and her family – have sought to attack public education, school employees and the unions that represent them. They have advocated for policies that attempt to undermine Michigan’s local public schools, attack the rights of school employees, and hamstring unions attempting to ensure those employees are treated with fairness and respect.

MEA has fought that agenda from the Mackinac Center for years – and we have no intention of stopping now.

However, in this case, the litigation cost to MEA members and the waste of federal justice resources prompted MEA to enter a settlement agreement with the federal government that was unsealed today. The settlement calls for MEA to pay the federal government approximately $115,000 to cover the costs of loan processing fees it paid to the bank. MEA did not engage in any wrongdoing, which is notable compared to news coverage about bad actors who used PPP loans to enrich themselves.

In pursuing this case, the Mackinac Center wasted valuable federal justice system time and resources attacking an organization that applied for a PPP loan in good faith and then returned the loan with interest.

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