Lawsuit Over PR Contracts Moves Forward

A federal judge in California has denied a motion from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the American Small Business League (ASBL), which is seeking to gather information about PR contracts between the SBA and APCO Worldwide. ASBL is a small business advocacy group; the SBA is a federal agency created to aid small businesses.

According to the ASBL press release announcing Judge Saundra Brown Armstrong’s decision, the group “believes the SBA may have launched a massive campaign to cover-up the diversion of federal small business contracts to large businesses, and to discourage the media from covering the issue.”

“We’ve gone through a broad-based Freedom of Information Act strategy where we’re asking for a large number of documents and looking into press office actions when they reach out to the media,” said Christopher Gunn, communications director for the ASBL. He went on to say that the organization is requesting information about the documents without redactions.

An SBA spokesperson told PRNewser in an e-mail,”SBA hired APCO for speechwriting, media training for executives, and consultations on dealing with negative public perceptions of the agency’s response to Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma. The contracts have been concluded, and APCO is no longer an SBA contractor.”

APCO Worldwide has also been contacted for comment.

“As an organization, we have a strong track record of winning lawsuits,” said Gunn. “We don’t go into lawsuits unless we have an idea that we’ll come out victorious.”