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9th Circuit Rules SBA Does Not have to Release Agency Phone Records

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On Friday, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals released its ruling in a lawsuit filed by the American Small Business League (ASBL) against the Small Business Administration (SBA) regarding the agency's phone records. The case was filed under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

The ASBL originally requested phone records for SBA Press Office Chief Mike Stamler. The ASBL believes that Stamler and the SBA Press Office have engaged in a campaign to discourage the media from reporting on the diversion of federal small business contracts to Fortune 500 firms and corporate giants around the world.

Through the course of litigation, the SBA has claimed that it does not have access to its own phone records. On Friday, the appellate court ruled that the agency is not required to retrieve records from a third party if the government has not specifically contracted for the storage of those records.

Over the last several years, the ASBL has won a series of lawsuits against the SBA, which have shown that the SBA has lied to Congress, the public and the media about the diversion of more than $100 billion a year in federal small business contracts to corporate giants.

Since 2003, more than a dozen federal investigations have uncovered billions of dollars a month in small business contracts awarded to large businesses. In Report 5-14, the SBA Office of Inspector General found the SBA itself had awarded small business contracts to large businesses. The most recent data released by the government shows large recipients of small business contracts like: Lockheed Martin, Boeing, L-3 Communications, Raytheon, British Aerospace (BAE), General Dynamics, Rolls-Royce and Dell Computer.

Despite these findings, the SBA issued a press release claiming that it was a myth that large businesses received federal small business contracts.

During 2010, the ASBL issued similar FOIA requests to several other federal agencies. In each case, the records were released. The SBA is the only agency that has been unwilling to provide its phone records.

I am disappointed in the 9th Circuit Court's ruling, but I am gratified that we have been able to show how desperate the SBA Press Office is to withhold potentially damaging phone records. Clearly they have something to hide. I want to promise the SBA, and its Administrator Karen Mills, that the ASBL will continue its legal campaign to expose the fact that the SBA has lied about the diversion of small business contracts to large businesses.