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Company Connected To Senate President Gets Virus Relief Loan

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AP Photo/Cathy Bussewitz
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FILE -- In this April 5, 2015 photo, Hawaii Senate President Ronald Kouchi, D-Kauai, speaks in Honolulu.

A company that Hawaii Senate President Ronald Kouchi owns shares in and is employed by received a small business coronavirus relief loan from the U.S. government, according to data released by the Small Business Administration.

Garden Isle Disposal LLC, the largest privately owned solid waste service company on Kauai, received a Paycheck Protection Program loan amounting to between $350,000 and $1 million.

The company does garbage disposal and recycling for commercial and residential clients on Kauai Island, according to its website. It’s been operating since the early 1990s.

Kouchi is from Kauai and has represented the island in the Senate since 2010.

Kouchi said he and his wife own shares in the company. Financial disclosure forms on file with the State Ethics Commission say the shares are worth between $50,000 and $100,000.

He also earns a salary from Garden Isle Disposal for performing community relations work. His disclosure forms say he received between $50,000 and $100,000 annually.

Kouchi’s brother, Scott Kouchi, is the president of the company.

Ronald Kouchi said the company, which employs 40 to 50 people, suffered a drop in revenue after hotels and businesses closed during the pandemic. But he said the company hasn’t laid off or furloughed anyone since receiving the loan.

“So I think it’s fortunate that the 40 to 50 employees continue to be fully employed and Garden Isle Disposal can continue to perform the essential service of collecting the commercial refuse,” Kouchi said.

The Paycheck Protection Program is part of a $2 trillion coronavirus aid package passed by Congress in March. On Monday, the Small Business Administration, which oversees the program, disclosed the names of companies that received loans of more than $150,000.

The program aims to motivate small businesses to retain their employees or, if they have laid them off, get them back to work.

Kouchi, a Democrat, has been Senate president since 2015.

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