According to the ASBL press release announcing the outcome, the group “suspects the SBA has spent American tax dollars to hire consultants to help obscure the SBA’s role in diverting billions of dollars a month in federal small business contracts to Fortune 500 firms and other large businesses around the world.” In one 2005 instance, the SBA paid $30,000 for a one-day meeting with APCO.
APCO had no comment on the matter. An SBA spokesperson said the following via e-mail:
SBA hired APCO for media training for senior executives and consultations on dealing with negative public perceptions of the agency’s response to Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma.
SBA had already provided copies of the two contracts in response to the FOIA request, but had redacted the company’s employer identification number and the unit pricing. In response to a ruling against SBA’s motion to dismiss the case, SBA voluntarily provided copies of the contracts without redactions.
Under a different contract that was also part of the FOIA request, the SBA worked with the White House Writer’s Group for speechwriting services.
Update: In a statement sent to PRNewser via e-mail, Lloyd Chapman, ASBL president, reiterated the organization’s belief that the SBA was diverting small business contracts to large companies and said it will continue with its investigation of the SBA’s PR partnerships.
“We’re going to study the additional information we have uncovered on the SBA’s public relations contracts, and will be issuing more FOIA requests in the coming months to shine a light on the SBA’s hiring of public relations firms,” Chapman’s statement reads.
“We intend to prove that the SBA has launched a campaign to impugn our credibility on this issue as a means of sabotaging our campaign to expose these abuses in the media.”