In Tight 5th Congressional District Contest, Lori Chavez-DeRemer Explains Forgiven PPP Loans

The fiscally conservative business owner accepted federal bailouts while she and her husband reaped $1 million-plus in annual income.

Republican Lori Chavez-DeRemer and her Democratic opponent, Jamie McLeod Skinner, are locked in Oregon’s tightest congressional race as they vie to replace incumbent 5th Congressional District Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.), whom McLeod Skinner knocked off in the primary.

The website 538 this week produced numbers showing Chavez-DeRemer with a narrow edge in a toss-up race.

The candidates came to WW’s office this week for an endorsement interview in which we asked both about President Joe Biden’s plan to forgive some student debt. McLeod-Skinner, a lawyer and consultant whose federal financial disclosure form shows she and her wife still have significant debt, said she’s supportive.

Chavez-DeRemer, the former mayor of Happy Valley, who along with her physician husband, Dr. Shawn DeRemer, built a thriving anesthesiology and wellness business, has railed against federal spending during the Biden presidency.

“Congress has spent our country into oblivion,” she says on her campaign website. “The Radical Left’s policies have turned our economy into shambles and pushed inflation to record-breaking numbers.”

She says she opposes Biden’s plan to reduce student debt—noting she and and her husband paid back $380,000 of their own student loans.

Records show, however, that one of their businesses, Anesthesia Associates NW LLC, got $1.3 million in federal Paycheck Protection Program loans—subsequently forgiven—in 2020 and 2021.

In each of those years, Chavez-DeRemer’s federal disclosure filings show, she and her husband reported income of between $1 million and $5 million from that business. So they were taking home healthy profits while accepting a bailout—something Chavez-DeRemer says shouldn’t be available to people with student debt.

In the clip below, Chavez-DeRemer offers her criticism of Biden’s plan and defends her actions.

“The government mandated we could not work,” she says. “We needed to make sure we didn’t lose employees.”