With a mission to protect small business owners’ rights, Lloyd Chapman, president of the Petaluma-based American Small Business League, has filed a legal injunction against the Small Business Administration, stating the SBA created illegal policies that have “cheated small businesses out of hundreds of billions in federal contracts.”
The SBA created a policy called “the exclusionary rule” and “small business eligible dollars” to lower the federal acquisition budget number used to calculate the percentage of contracts awarded to all categories of small business. The ASBL believes the exclusionary rule has no basis in law, and gives the SBA means to defraud small businesses out of contracts that were legally theirs to bid.
Grandfathering, or the “five year rule,” is another policy the ASBL considers illegal. Under the policy, the SBA reports billions of dollars in federal contracts to Fortune 500 firms, their subsidiaries and hundreds of large businesses around the world as small business contracts. This report significantly inflates the total number of federal contracts that appear to have been awarded to small businesses. The ASBL seeks the removal of the policy.
In 2015, the Congressional Budget Office reported a total federal budget for the fiscal year was $3.9 trillion, but the discretionary spending budget was $1.2 trillion. The ASBL believes the latter number is the most accurate acquisition budget number and should be used to calculate the volume and percentage of federal contracts awarded to small businesses for 2015.
The investigations started in 2002 as part of a series of investigative reports from groups including Pubic Citizen, a nonprofit consumers rights think tank from Washington, D.C. National coverage of the investigations includes reporting from ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, Fox News and RTTV.
In a statement to Newsdesk, Chapman says, “I am confident the court will find the SBA’s policies violate federal law, and the SBA has blatantly falsified federal small business contracting data and cheated small businesses out of billions of dollars.”
Michael Browne and his best friend, Dan Kosta, started their winery on a shoestring in 1997. But before long, Kosta Browne Winery clawed its way into the world of premier wines. The friends received angel funding to expand their operation and, despite an industry slowdown, had a full-fledged winery on their hands by 2001. Wine Spectator gave 95 points to two of his 2003 Pinot Noirs, and three scores of 90 or higher to other varietals that year, an unprecedented record for a small operation. Browne recalls he turned “white as a ghost” the morning he heard the news, lamenting, “How are we going to keep up the pace after that?”
Today, Kosta Browne operates out of The Barlow in Sebastopol, Browne finally has the platform he needs to give back to the community that gave him so much. In May, Browne donated one barrel of 2014 Russian River Pinot Noir to the Redwood Empire Food Bank, which poured tastings in the Barlow in return for cash donations.
“We not only attract people to The Barlow, but we get to raise money for a good cause—and it only costs us one barrel of wine,” laughs Browne. “Sure, we could hold a private fundraiser and charge at the door, but this way, people can donate what they want and enjoy wine they might not be able to find on their own. Everybody wins!”
The event raised $7,080 for the Redwood Empire Food Bank. For every $1 donated, the bank can distribute enough food for two meals. “We’re not all about sales,” says Browne. “We were founded and forged in this community, and we want to show our gratitude by giving back.”
While not set in stone, Browne likes the idea of charitable tastings as an annual event at The Barlow, with a different recipient each year.
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