May 18, 2011
Petaluma, Calif. – The Supreme Court of the United States has announced it will not review an American Small Business League (ASBL) case against the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) over the agency’s refusal to release its phone records. The ASBL’s lawsuit was filed under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
The ASBL filed a petition to the high court in January after the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals found the SBA was not required to disclose phone records held by a third party. The small business advocate originally filed suit against the 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 after a series of media professionals complained that Stamler attempted to defame ASBL President Lloyd Chapman, and deny the diversion of small business contracts to corporate giants.
Since 2003, a series of federal investigations have uncovered the diversion of billions of dollars a year in federal small business contracts to corporate giants. (http://www.asbl.com/documentlibrary.html) 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.”(http://www.asbl.com/documents/05-15.pdf)
Throughout the course of litigation, the SBA has claimed that it does not have access to its own phone records, and 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 track record of withholding documents that highlight its efforts to cover-up the division of billions of dollars in federal small business contracts to corporate giants. In February 2008, the SBA refused to release documents regarding the large recipients of small business contracts. In the court’s ruling against the agency, 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.”
"The fact that the SBA was willing to go to the Supreme Court to withhold Mike Stamler's phone records shows just how damaging that information must be," Chapman said. "The SBA has played a pivotal role in allowing billions of dollars in fraud. We’ll continue to pursue this information until it is public and transparent."