Sher Valenzuela basically embodies everything the Republican party wants from its "We Built This" narrative: She's a small business-owning Latina running for office in Delaware, according to The New Yorker's John Cassidy. The only problem is, her company has taken some $17 million in federal loans and contracts and Reddit is all over it. First off, Valenzuela's company is called First State Manufacturing, but, as Reddit user FirstStateMan figured out, Valenzuela did not register firststatemanufacturing.com --so he "built" it for her. And this may be where those loans and contracts come to haunt Valenzuela and the Republican National Convention, where she's scheduled to speak Tuesday. As the left-leaning Media Matters reported on August 23, Valenzuela and her manufacturing company received more than $2 million in federal loans and more than $15 million in federal contracts over the years--which severely undercuts the "We Built This" theme that Republican are running with for the convention.
And this is where FirstStateMan's dummy site comes into play. Currently it's being bombarded with tons of hits, which makes it harder to load. But he has outlined a year-by-year timeline of the federal aid and technical help that Valenzuela received since 1997. Highlights include:
"With help from SBA resource partners SCORE and the Small Business Technology and Development Center the [we] composed a business plan and opened First State Manufacturing in their garage with an old but reliable sewing machine named 'Betsy.'"
We received an SBA $20,000 Express loan to rent a 2,000 sq. ft. space in a warehouse so we could expand outside of our garage.
Earned larger contracts with assistance from local Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC)
We got two loans from the SBA in 2002!
The SBA gave us a $96,000 loan 7(A) to modernize and expand our inventory.
The 9/11 tragedy challenged our very existence. The SBA gave us a $65,800 Disaster loan to maintain our business and employees.
Using taxpayer funding to help your small business, isn't embarrassing by any means. But it is damning if you're going to tell everyone at the convention and on television how you did it "on your own" and champion the GOP "We built this" talking point that President Obama's administration doesn't care about small business owners. It also can't help when there's a dummy site out there with a Google bomb-friendly Web address for your business. (Valenzuela's actual site firststatemfg.com.) We still don't know if this hypocrisy is enough to bump Valenzuela off the schedule (she's still on for Tuesday sometime after 9:00 p.m. EDT), but if it does, Ms. Valenzuela can thank Reddit.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.