RJ Eskow of Night Light posed this question on his blog earlier today – Is the SBA the Next Scandal?.
According to the Associated Press, Bush’s Small Business Administration not only mismanaged the disbursement of funds meant for small businesses harmed by September 11, but publicized one audit while concealing another in order to make their record appear better than it actually was.
Republican Senator Olympia Snowe calls the situation “nothing short of an outrage.” And what did SBA head Hector Barreto do before he got this job? Why, he raised a lot of money for Republican campaigns. Obviously the SBA doesn’t play the same life-saving role FEMA does, but there are echoes of the FEMA scandal in the mismanagement of funds meant to relieve those who suffered from a disaster.
I think RJ could be on to something, because over the past two years or so since I have been blogging about John Kerry, I have paid very close attention to his work as the Ranking Member of the Senate Small Business Committee. Needless to say, I was not at all shocked or surprised when I heard that Congress was going to investigate the SBA’s Sept. 11 Loan Program.
Why? Because over the past couple of years, John Kerry has repeatedly exposed corruption and fraud within the SBA, he’s fought to keep important SBA programs afloat and chastised Hector Barreto on numerous occasions for simply put, his mismanagement of the SBA.
Kerry joined Olympia Snowe in her recent call for an investigation into the SBA’s Sept. 11 Loan Program.
“This was a deliberate attempt to cover up White House budget gimmicks that left the SBA’s largest loan program underfunded and on the brink of shutting down,” Kerry said. “The administration asked SBA employees to bend the rules and steer regular loans through the program aimed at helping businesses impacted by 9/11.”
Earlier today I posted about the follow-up letter from Senators Kerry and Landrieu on the Katrina Disaster Loan Program, that they requested an extended deadline for on Sept. 1. They have yet to have received a reply from Barreto.
Here’s one example of another scandal of sorts with Barreto and the SBA: SBA in Hot Water for Failing to Monitor Contract Bundling’s Effect on Small Business.
In his letter to the SBA administrator, Kerry charged that the “continued lack of effective oversight of federal contracting by SBA is an abrogation of the agency’s duty to effectively advocate on behalf of small businesses attempting to do business with the federal government.”
The average person doesn’t pay much attention to the Small Business news coming out of the Senate. Perhaps they should, because as RJ noted, this could very well be the next Federal scandal.