Sherrod Brown (D-OH) Honors "Small Business" with Big Government Contracts

Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) is in a tough race to maintain his seat against State Treasurer Josh Mandel. The Real Clear Politics average currently has Brown up by 7.7 points and Mandel is closing the gap, even after several weeks of extremely negative attack ads, not by Super Pacs, but directly from the Brown campaign itself. Not exactly a commanding lead for an incumbent who enjoys the support of the unions and the liberal  base, both of which have sunk millions into his campaign.

Brown’s latest tactic is to sell himself as a free-market capitalist, though nearly everything in his past record screams otherwise. Today he sent out an email with the headline:

“Medina County Small Business Owner Named “National Small Business Person of the Year.”

Now, I don’t know about you, but when I think of a “small business” I tend to think of a family-owned business with a handful of employees, not dependent on the government for its livelihood. Call me old-fashioned.

Senator Brown and the Small Business Administration (a government agency) have something a little different in mind than your local auto repair shop or the family-owned custard stand.

Brown’s email today highlighted a company called Clinical RM, owned by Victoria Tifft. Tifft dedicated her life to vaccine research after contracting malaria on a Peace Corp tour 20 years ago and the company, “is a full service Contract Research Organization (CRO) specializing in support of clinical research, clinical trial services for biologics, drugs, and devices. ” All very nice.

She sat down for an interview with Entrepreneur after winning the Small Business Administration (SBA) Small Business Person of the Year Award and discussed how the business attained such success:

“Knowing how to take care of our customers has always helped us grow organically. As I always say to my staff, our customers do our selling for us, as a lot of our business is by referral or repeat business. So there was a certain point a couple years back that one customer told another and they told two more and they told two more. And that was the tipping point. We went from 25 or 50 folks to 150. We’re at little over 330 now, and we have aggressive growth plans to double that figure in the next three years.”

Great customer service, word of mouth…and a $98 million federal contract in April of 2011. And another $98 million in June of 2011. And another $20 million in April of 2012.  You know, just one neighbor telling another,  like every family-owned local business does.  Our local custard stand ought to look into this federal contract “repeat business” scheme.

Now, I understand that there may perhaps be some limited role for the government in researching technologies for control of infectious diseases. I’m old enough to remember kids suffering the effects of polio and I’m glad it’s mostly been eradicated in this country. I’m not faulting the company for the work they do or for seeking out government contracts when they are available. They have as much right as any other company to do so.

But it’s laughable that Sherrod Brown and the Government Bureau of Small Business Control…er…Small Business Administration…highlights this company as the embodiment of  a successful “small business” in the United States in 2012. According to Entrepreneur, the company has “330 employees and annual revenues that reached $40 million,” much of the revenue as a result of government contracts. How does the local mom and pop business compete with that?

Of course Sherrod Brown is going to love this company and it’s government contracts. It comes as no surprise that “Health Professionals” are among the top contributors to Sherrod Brown’s campaign, right below lawyers and law firms,  just above real estate and securities and investment special interests. This is the same Sherrod Brown who said:

“This year, we are going to take our government out of the hands of corporate special interests and put it back into the hands of Ohio families – where it belongs.”

Guess that depends on your definition of “special interest” and on whether they donate to Dems and vote Democrat.  Special interests are bad only if they vote Republican and/or are associated with Bain Capital.  This is how the game is played. Just don’t tell the average Democratic voters because they’re not supposed to know.