DARLINGTON, S.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — Elaine Reed said the $20,833 Paycheck Protection Program loan the government approved for her in May 2021 was a shock, “I did not even expect to get it, I was surprised.”

Reed, a sitting member of the Darlington City Council, is listed as one of 139,469 South Carolina business owners who borrowed taxpayer dollars to protect employee paychecks during the pandemic, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration’s online PPP loan database for loans up to $150,000.

Darlington City Councilwoman, Elaine Reed, talks with fellow council member Bryant Gardner during a June 30, 2023 special called meeting of the Darlington City Council. (WJZY Photo/Jody Barr)

The councilwoman was one of 693 business owners listing a Darlington address to be awarded a PPP loan of up to $150,000. Darlington businesses received $14.5 million in PPP loans in the $150,000 and less threshold. SBA records show Reed’s name as the borrower and her home address is also listed in the records the government posted on its PPP loan database website.

Reed listed her business type as “self-employed individuals” and reported one job connected to the business, according to the SBA records. The councilwoman’s loan records show her North American Industry Classification System, or NAICS, number as 333112, which the U.S. Census website shows is a business, “primarily engaged in manufacturing powered lawnmowers, lawn and garden tractors, and other home lawn and garden equipment, such as tillers, shredders, yard vacuums, and leaf blowers.”

NAICS is a government classification system used in the federal government’s “statistical agencies in classifying business establishments for the collection, tabulation, presentation, and analysis of statistical data describing the U.S. economy,” according to the Census site.

In June, Queen City News received a tip that Reed did not own a business and did not have employees that would qualify for a PPP loan.

Reed’s son, Cisco Reed, also received a loan for $20,832. QCN’s source confirmed Cisco Reed had a lawn care business in Darlington in and around May 2021, the time the SBA approved his loan. Cisco confirmed to Queen City News he’s held a federal tax identification number for his ‘Elaine’s Son Lawn Care Service’ since 2016.

Cisco Reed sat for an interview with Queen City News’ Chief Investigator Jody Barr on June 30, 2023, to explain how he used his $20,832 Paycheck Protection Program loan. (WJZY Photo/Jody Barr)

Queen City News could not find any federal tax identification number for his mother, Councilwoman Reed.

QCN also filed open records requests with the South Carolina Secretary of State’s Office and Darlington City Hall, looking for any records showing the existence of a business belonging to Elaine Reed. The state had no records for Elaine Reed in Darlington.

The city did not have a business license on file for the councilwoman at all.

Cisco Reed, however, had two business licenses on file in the city: one for 2019, and no active license in 2020. The city provided a copy of a 2021 business license for Cisco Reed’s lawn care business, but that license was not issued until June 11, 2021 – three weeks after the SBA records show Reed was awarded his PPP loan.

Cisco Reed is still in business today and in the broadcast report linked above, Cisco Reed shows how he used his PPP loan while his mother explains to Queen City News how she came to find out about the taxpayer loan opportunity, what business she’s involved in, and whose paycheck she borrowed the money to protect.