Small Business Administration (SBA) head Linda McMahon stepped down Friday to become the chair of the pro-Trump super PAC America First Action. The timing of her move is no coincidence. Departing a cabinet level position to run the super PAC aligns with the Trump administrations re-election campaign.
McMahon was an original supporter and big donor to the Trump campaign in 2016, and was confirmed by the Senate as SBA administrator in February 2017, and was among Trump’s original Cabinet members. She is one of five women currently serving in the Trump Cabinet. According to Politico, who first reported the story, the president’s top aides believe they will need to raise around $1 billion for the 2020 election, and say the super PAC will be a major part of the effort.
In a press conference on Friday, Trump exclaimed, “She has been one of our all-time favorites. She’s going to go and help us with a very, very important year and a half that we have coming up.”
McMahon, 70, and her husband, Vince McMahon, co-founded the company that became World Wrestling Entertainment. In a statement on Friday, McMahon remarked, “While it has truly been the honor of a lifetime to serve our country in this Administration, it is time for me to step down and return to the private sector.”
McMahon has quietly led the SBA in its lending programs and disaster relief efforts, working to increase loans to women-run businesses and traveling with the President when he visited hurricane-struck areas.
The game of musical chairs has several key components that precipitated McMahon’s move. Tommy Hicks Jr., a businessman and close ally of the Trump family, left the super PAC to become Republican National Committee co-chairman. McMahon will segue into his former position. In addition to her tenure at the SBA, McMahon has flirted with other political positions. She had twice run for Senate in Connecticut as a Republican in 2010 and 2012, losing to both of the states current Democratic Sens., Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy.
McMahon has had an impressive record of achievement at the SBA in her short time with the agency. She helped create the Rural Lending Initiative, which was announced in July 2018. The 504 Rural Initiative Pilot Program will increase access to capital for rural small businesses. A National Veterans Small Business week was created.
In 2018, the SBA highlighted various aspects of the veteran business community, ranging from aspiring to current veteran and military business owners, as well as the organizations that provide entrepreneurial training. McMahon also has been following the Trump mandate of less federal government regulation. As such, the SBA formed a task force to evaluate small business regulations and determine which should be repealed, replaced, or modified. Small businesses, in general, are not equipped to deal with the overwhelming controls placed on them by various government agencies.
This will be a direct impact on their bottom lines once approved. It’s unclear who will replace McMahon at the SBA. One possible candidate, according to administration officials, is Pradeep Belur, the agency’s chief of staff, who has taken on a broader role in recent months.