The American Small Business League (ASBL) has filed a petition to the Supreme Court of the United States challenging a 9th Circuit Court ruling which may allow federal agencies to withhold agency phone records requested under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). (http://www.asbl.com/documents/20110114_ASBL_SCOTUS_Petion.pdf)
The ASBL originally filed suit against the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) after the agency refused to provide several years of telephone records for the agency’s press office director, Mike Stamler. (http://www.asbl.com/documents/20090312complaint.pdf)
The ASBL requested Stamler's phone records under FOIA after a number of journalists complained that Stamler attempted to defame ASBL President Lloyd Chapman, and deny the existence of the diversion of federal small business contracts to corporate giants. Since 2003, a series of federal investigations have uncovered billions of dollars a month in federal small business contracts actually going to Fortune 500 firms and other large businesses.
In Report 5-15, the SBA Office of Inspector General (SBA IG) described the issue as, “One of the most important challenges facing the Small Business Administration and the entire Federal government today,” and in Report 5-16, the SBA IG found large businesses had received small business contracts illegally by making “false certifications,” and “improper certifications.” (http://www.asbl.com/documents/05-15.pdf, http://www.asbl.com/documents/05-16.pdf)
Throughout the course of litigation, the SBA has claimed that it does not have access to its own phone records, and as a result has maintained that it is not required to supply that information under FOIA. Yet during 2010, the ASBL requested and received full and comprehensive telephone records from federal agencies like the U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) and the Social Security Administration (SSA).
The SBA has a clear track record of withholding requested documents that may shine a light on efforts to cover-up the yearly diversion of billions of dollars in federal small business contracts to corporate giants. In February of 2008, the ASBL sued the SBA for refusing to release the names of Fortune 500 firms and other large businesses that had received billions of dollars in federal small business contracts. In the court’s ruling, United States District Judge Marilyn H. Patel 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.”
“It is blatant and obvious that the SBA is covering up these abuses. They act like they are trying to solve the problem, and yet it is clear that the SBA is directly involved with perpetrating all of these abuses on small businesses,” ASBL President Lloyd Chapman said. “Other agencies have provided the requested information, yet the SBA continues to hide behind its excuses.”