THE BLOG

U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Challenged to Put Up or Shut Up on Contracting Abuses

08/10/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

I must have irritated the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC) the other day when I issued a press release that acknowledged they were opposing a bill I wrote to stop the flow of federal small business contracts to Fortune 500 firms.

Several regional and state Hispanic chambers have endorsed H.R. 2568, the Fairness and Transparency in Contracting Act, which was introduced in the House of Representatives by Representative Hank Johnson (D-GA). The bill will halt the flow of over $100 billion a year in federal small business contracts to Fortune 500 firms and thousands of other large businesses. Apparently, the USHCC has been contacting Hispanic chambers that support H.R. 2568, and pressuring them to drop their endorsements.

After the American Small Business League (ASBL) publicized the USHCC's opposition to H.R. 2568, the USHCC fired off a response, which referred to the ASBL as an "obscure group." I found that to be rather comical, considering the fact that both the President of the USHCC Augustine Martinez, and Chairman David C. Lizárraga were quoted in the chamber's response. If the ASBL is so obscure, why did the chamber get so riled-up?

In its press release the Chamber claims that it has maintained a "longstanding commitment to comprehensive and substantive federal contracting reform" and that Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez (D - NY) is the "principle champion" of reform on small business contracting issues.

Here is the truth. The USHCC has never objected to the diversion of billions of dollars in federal small business contracts to Fortune 500 firms in any way, shape or form.

Since 2003, over 15 federal investigations have been released which found that every year billions of dollars in federal small business contracts have been diverted to Fortune 500 firms, and thousands of other large businesses around the world. There have been over 400 stories on this issue in the mainstream media. Every major newspaper in the country has covered the abuses along with most of the major television networks like ABC, CBS and CNN.

In 2005, the SBA Office of Inspector General released Report 5-15, which referred to the diversion of federal small business contracts to corporate giants as, "One of the most important challenges facing the Small Business Administration [SBA] and the entire Federal government today."

I have been working to help Hispanic-owned small businesses for 20 years; maybe that is why Entrepreneur Magazine said I might be a modern-day César Chávez for small businesses. The ASBL has been working with hundreds of Hispanic chambers of commerce across the country to help stop the diversion of federal small business contracts to corporate giants.

What has the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce done to address these rampant abuses? NOTHING!

As far as the claim that Congresswoman Velázquez is the "principle champion" of reform on small business contracting issues, nothing could be further from the truth. Congresswoman Velázquez has been on the House Small Business Committee for years, and the Chair of the Committee since January of 2007. She has never introduced a single piece of legislation to halt the flow of federal small business contracts to Fortune 500 firms. To the contrary, after receiving major campaign contributions from the National Venture Capital Association, Velázquez rammed a bill through the House, H.R. 2965, that will divert even more federal small business contracts to some of the nation's wealthiest investors.

So let me say this to Mr. Martinez and Mr. Lizárraga at the USHCC; you're delusional if you sincerely believe your organization represents the three million Hispanic businesses in America. I have talked to hundreds of Hispanic business owners and Hispanic chambers of commerce across the country that want nothing to do with the USHCC. They believe the Hispanic Chamber is more concerned with the political agenda of your "corporate partners" than the average Hispanic owned small business. Your opposition to H.R. 2568 is a prime example.

So I'm challenging Mr. Martinez and Mr. Lizárraga's to put up or shut up. If the U.S. Hispanic Chamber is such a big small business advocate, show me. Let's see your press releases, your articles, your television appearances, your lawsuits or the legislation you have written to stop the flow of billions of dollars in federal small business contracts to some of the largest corporations in the world.

If you can't do that, your press release is blatantly false and misleading, and you should endorse H.R. 2568 and help bring an end to the diversion of federal small business contracts to corporate giants.