The recent decision by St. Louis officials to remove five businesses from its list of certified minority-owned businesses due to allegations that the companies’ owners falsely claimed Native American ancestry highlights the need for stronger oversight and review of programs aimed at providing opportunities for groups that historically have been passed over for government contracts based on race or gender, state Rep. Alan Green (D-Florissant) said in a statement.
“Efforts by state and local governments to give women and minority owned businesses a fair shot at winning government contracts have proved crucial in helping many of these companies to grow and thrive,” stated Green, who has represented House District 67 since 2014.
“Unfortunately, there are unscrupulous operators who will fraudulently claim minority status to win contracts. That’s why it is vital for officials to closely monitor these programs so that the goal of improving true minority participation is achieved while avoiding rewarding bad actors.”
According to a July 2 story by the Riverfront Times, St. Louis officials last month decertified five businesses that had claimed minority status based on an allegedly dubious affiliation with a particular Cherokee tribe whose legitimacy is not recognized by the federal government.
“The American capitalist system is based on ownership,” Green said. “It may be ownership of a home, a business organization or stocks in a corporation. For most Americans, what gives a sense of power, of control over one's destiny, though, is ownership of a business enterprise.”
Green, the ranking Democratic member of the Special House Small Business Committee, has sponsored several bills in recent years to expand and improve opportunities for women and minority owned businesses. Green formerly served as director of the Office of Equal Opportunity for the Missouri Office of Administration, which generally oversees the awarding of state contracts.