Three weeks after small business owner speeches at the Republican National Convention turned into a fact checker’s bonanza, a right-leaning organization and a Latina pitch woman have picked up the argument that businesses can be built without government help.
This time Cecilia Aldana, a Peruvian-American business woman, is making the case -- in an ad titled "Cecilia y su sueño Americano" (Cecilia and her American Dream) -- that she, her family and her employees built her clinic and medical billing and accounting services companies without government help. And, she makes the claim in Spanish. The 60-second ad, funded by the LIBRE Initiative will air in Colorado, Florida, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, and Virginia. In a statement, LIBRE described it as call to action to the Hispanic community to “protect our dream and our freedom.”
“... All that I accomplished, I did without the help of the government,” Aldana says in the ad. “Only in this country with the help of your family, the help of your employees, with a lot of work, all of you -- small business owners -- can achieve your American Dream."
The ad points to a confluence of factors shaping the 2012 election. It is funded by a conservative organization reportedly in the process of seeking support from the Koch Brothers, two über-wealthy business owners with a shadowy but growing level of influence in American politics. It also represents a final stage attempt to find and push a message that will resonate with Latino voters. Both the Romney and Obama campaigns have made their respective need to win Latino vote clear.
The LIBRE Initiative's tax status prevents the group from funding ads that explicitly support a candidate. And Aldana's ad never directly calls for viewers to vote for Romney. Instead, it mentions the size of the national debt and Latino unemployment.
“The American Dream is threatened by an enormous national debt and extremely high unemployment, especially amongst Latinos, ”a narrator says as images of Aldan's employees appear on the screen. “It has become very difficult to prosper.”
Aldana also says in the commercial that she immigrated to the United States from Peru in 1981 due to political conditions in her country. Earlier this year, Aldana, president of a Las Vegas-based conservative group called Nevada Hispanics, was quoted in an area newspaper calling on the Romney campaign to ad Rubio to the ticket. She also publicly complained about the way that the Republican party has vilified and labeled undocumented immigrants as, “invaders,” the Las Vegas Review Journal reported.
Aldana has never received a small business administration loan or registered for the 8a program, a government initiative that helps small businesses access company-building federal contracts, capital and insurance, U.S. Small Business Administration officials said. There is also no record of Aldana receiving advice though one of three Small Business Administration programs that aim to help companies grow.
However, Aldana’s story is also more complicated than the ad makes clear. As the owner of a health clinic and a medical billing and accounting company, some of the patients mentioned in the ad are individuals who are covered by Medicare and Medicaid. Also, doctors and other medical care providers who accept Medicare, Medicaid and who make use of government-funded research as they determine how to treat their patients rank among her accounting and billing clients. The situation, true of most clinics, medical billing and accounting firms, makes Aldana an indirect beneficiary of government programs, spending and support.
In August, hours after two business owners tapped to speak during the GOP Convention on what was billed as “We Built It” Night, reporters uncovered evidence that both had been on the receiving end of significant and direct government funds. One of the business owners, New Mexico sign maker Phil Archuletta, won over $340,000 in federal contracts during the Obama administration in 2010, The Huffington Post reported.
That figure amounts to almost half of the $800,000 Archuletta has received in federal dollars over the past 10 years. Archuletta’s business also benefited from $716,500 in loans guaranteed by the government, according to the Small Business Administration. Archuletta used one loan to build a factory where his employees produced signs for the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Department of Transportation.
The other business owner and Delaware Lt. Governor candidate, Sher Valenzuela has received roughly $17 million in federal loans and contracts that helped her grow the upholstery business she founded in her garage, according to Media Matters, a left-leaning research organization which reported she also "urged other small business owners to follow the same strategy of seeking government funds."