Eight members of Congress are calling on the Small Business Administration to investigate whether the operator of a luxury Santa Monica hotel and dozens of other properties properly spent tens of millions of dollars in pandemic relief funding.



a group of people that are talking on a cell phone: A group prays during an August demonstration supporting Margarita Santos, center, who was fired from her housekeeping job at the JW Marriott Santa Monica Le Merigot hotel. The hotel's operator, Columbia Sussex, received tens of millions of dollars in PPP loans. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)


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A group prays during an August demonstration supporting Margarita Santos, center, who was fired from her housekeeping job at the JW Marriott Santa Monica Le Merigot hotel. The hotel’s operator, Columbia Sussex, received tens of millions of dollars in PPP loans. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

Rep. Katie Porter (D-Irvine) and seven of her Democratic colleagues issued a letter Tuesday urging the SBA to investigate how a hotel conglomerate that owns or operates at least 50 hotels spent the money it received — as much as $63 million — from the Paycheck Protection Program.

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The group of lawmakers said in the letter that the PPP was designed to keep workers employed but that the hotel company, Columbia Sussex, accepted the funding through multiple affiliates and still laid off thousands of workers.

“Columbia Sussex appears to have taken advantage of these policies — borrowing taxpayer money at artificially low interest rates through multiple entities while laying off workers,” their letter to SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza says.

Phone calls and emails to the Kentucky headquarters of Columbia Sussex were not returned Tuesday.

The PPP, part of the $2-trillion stimulus funding package approved by Congress in March, was promoted as a tool for keeping workers employed during the economic crisis. But experts, academics and union leaders told the Los Angeles Times that loopholes and flaws in the program allowed businesses to accept millions of dollars in forgivable loans without retaining or recalling most of their workers.

The program requires loan recipients to use at least 60%

Sergiño Dest, right, a member of the U.S. national team, was acquired by Barcelona from Dutch club Ajax. <span class="copyright">(Sam Greenwood / Getty Images)</span>
Sergiño Dest, right, a member of the U.S. national team, was acquired by Barcelona from Dutch club Ajax. (Sam Greenwood / Getty Images)

On Thursday, Barcelona acquired U.S. national team defender Sergiño Dest from Dutch club Ajax, a transfer that could cost the Spanish giant more than $30 million in transfer fees. On Sunday the team could get its first look at its newest player when it hosts Sevilla (BeIN Sports, noon PDT), highlighting the televised soccer action from Europe.

EPL: Three games into the Premier League season, only four teams remain unbeaten. Everton is one of them and Manchester City is not. The Toffees (3-0-0) also have the league’s top scorer in Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who has five goals heading into its game with visiting Brighton (1-2-0) on Saturday (NBCSN, Universo, 7 a.m. PDT). Later Saturday, Manchester City (1-1-0), which lost a mistake-filled game to unbeaten Leicester City last week, will try to rebound when it meets newly promoted Leeds United (2-1-0) at Elland Road (Ch. 4, Universo, 9:30 a.m. PDT). Two other unbeatens — Liverpool and Aston Villa — face off Sunday when the Reds (3-0-0) travel to Villa Park to meet the only EPL team yet to concede a goal (NBCSN, Universo,11:15 p.m. PDT).

Ligue 1: With two losses in five games, perennial French champion Paris-Saint Germain (3-2-0) will match its total for defeats from last season if its falls to Angers (3-2-0) on Friday (BeIN Sports, noon PDT) at Parc des Princes. PSG, which saw several star players sidelined by COVID-19 last month, lost its first two games but has won the last three by a combined 6-0. Angers has allowed six goals in its last two outings.

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Facebook has filed building permits to expand its massive data center in North Fort Worth.

The social media giant has invested $1 billion so far on its huge tech campus in the AllianceTexas development. It recently made filings with the state to add to the 150-acre complex on State Highway 170 in Tarrant County. And a Fort Worth building permit was filed on September 28 listing DPR Construction as the general contractor.

The buildings already total 2.5 million square feet.

Facebook opened the first phase of the project in 2017 and has quietly added to the data center since then. The new filings show more than 277,000 square feet of additional construction.

The big data center project currently employs more than 200 people.

“We are proud to invest $1 billion into Fort Worth, but even prouder to see how our investments spur further economic benefits for the area, especially during this tough economic climate,” Holli Davies, Facebook community development manager, said in a statement. “Our data center investments go beyond economic growth to benefit the local environment and community.”

Facebook currently operates eight U.S. data centers and has five more in development. From 2017 to 2019, it invested $11.5 billion in these projects.

The first data center opened in Oregon in 2011.

This year the company has announced more than 4.8 million square feet of new U.S. data center construction.

Facebook said that since 2017 it has increased its data center employment by 164% to more than 850 people.

In Fort Worth, construction of the data center at its peak employed an average of 1,200 construction workers daily.

To support its data centers, Facebook says in a new report that it has invested in 987 megawatts of wind and solar electric generation that came online between 2017 and 2019.

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