By Shawn Zeller
May 21, 2007
A former computer company executive, Chapman, 57, founded the league in 2002 after discovering that government contracts purportedly set aside for small businesses had been granted to large corporations. He’s made a name for himself in Washington by courting the press and besieging federal agencies — primarily the Small Business Administration — with requests filed under the Freedom of Information Act to disclose their contracting practices. From his home base in Petaluma, Calif., he also berates legislators from both major parties and much of the small-business lobbying establishment.
Q.Do you consider yourself a gadfly or a watchdog?
A. I consider myself a watch pit bull. When you look at my success in court, I’m more than a gadfly.
Q.What legal actions are you pursuing now?
A. My ultimate goal for 2007 is to file the big kahuna lawsuit and get a federal judge to look at the Small Business Administration policies that allow Fortune 500 firms to get small-business contracts.
Q.Has the new Democratic majority been more responsive than the GOP had been?
A. I couldn't be more disappointed. I thought when the Democrats took over Congress that John Kerry, who heads the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, would announce oversight hearings. He’s done nothing.
Q. Have the Washington lobbies for small business backed you up?
A. Go to the National Federation of Independent Business Web site and see if you can find small-business contracting mentioned. You can’t. What they do is lobby for Fortune 500 companies.
Q.What should they be doing instead?
A. More than 90 percent of all American companies have fewer than 100 employees. Those firms generate 80 to 90 percent of the jobs. Right now the government’s self-proclaimed goal is that small businesses should get 23 percent of the contracts. We think it’s fair if we get 23 percent — but we don’t get that.