Federal Judge Forces SBA to Release Contracting Data
August 28, 2008
Petaluma, Calif. - The Small Business Administration (SBA) has lost another round in its ongoing legal battle with small business advocate Lloyd Chapman and the American Small Business League (ASBL).
Judge Marilyn H. Patel of United States District Court, Northern District of California denied all of the SBA's motions on Tuesday, in the latest Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) case filed by the ASBL. Using FOIA, the ASBL requested the specific names of all firms that had received federal small business contracts during fiscal years 2005 and 2006.
Even though the SBA had been previously ordered by Patel to release the information to Chapman, the SBA attempted to have the case dismissed as a means of avoiding to release further information and having to reimburse the ASBL for its legal fees.
Bush officials fought to withhold the release of the names to circumvent disclosing that Fortune 500 firms and other large businesses around the world had received a lion's share of government small business contracts since President Bush assumed office in 2001.
During the proceedings, attorneys for the Bush Administration persistently denied that the SBA had ever possessed a list containing the names of firms that had received government small business contracts. They went on to claim that officials at the SBA never had knowledge of the actual recipients of federal government small business contracts for any year.
Regarding the SBA's claims, case documents stated, "The court finds it curious the SBA's argument that it does not 'control' the very information it needs to carry out its duties and functions."
After questioning SBA attorneys, Patel declined to accept the SBA's claim and stated, "SBA's attempt to argue that the information sought by the League is not an 'agency record' is the kind of bureaucratic foot-dragging that FOIA - by providing the public with free open access to government records - was designed to avoid."
"By now it should be obvious to everyone involved that all of the information the Bush Administration has been releasing on federal small business contracting is misleading and disingenuous," ASBL President Lloyd Chapman stated. "The truth is, the Bush Administration has intentionally diverted the vast majority of our government's small business contracts to some of the largest companies in the world. All of the Bush Administration's lame excuses of 'miscoding' and their ridiculous 'myth vs. fact' PR campaign were a pathetic attempt to dupe the media and the public, and it has failed miserably."
Chapman added, "The American Small Business League will continue to lead the fight to take back our country's small business programs from corporate giants and billionaire venture capitalists. We will help American's 26 million small businesses to unite and speak with a single voice that will be so strong our next President and every member of Congress will be able to hear it loud and clear."
- ### -