The SBA Office of Hearings and Appeals denied an SDVOSB-status protest recently where the protester’s main argument amounted to an allegation that the owner of a competitor failed to identify on social media that he had a service-related disability.
OHA called the allegation “completely without merit.”
BMK Ventures, Inc. protested the service-disabled veteran-owned status of Beacon Point Associates, LLC in October. Beacon point had been reverified as SDVOSB by the Department of Veterans Affairs Center for Verification and Evaluation only two weeks earlier.
The protest alleged that the owner of Beacon, Thomas Jefferson Summerour, Jr. was not a service disabled veteran because his LinkedIn profile said he was in the Navy for 20 years but fails to claim that he was “disabled during his military service” on that or any other social media platform.
The protester also noted that Mr. Summerour seemed to own another business that could distract from his running of Beacon Point.
Beacon Point responded by arguing that the protester “appears to believe that users of social media platforms are required to list personal information such as whether they have received a disability rating from the VA.”
OHA asked for more information about the alleged side business, so Beacon Point explained that Mr. Summerour owns Beacon Point Properties, LLC, a real estate holding company that owns the property where Beacon Point is located. The company also explained that Mr. Summerour works all operating hours of Beacon Point, usually arriving 30 minutes prior to the opening of operations and leaving 30 minutes after closing.
OHA found that the allegation regarding social media accounts to be baseless.
Protestor’s claim that Mr. Summerour is not a service-disabled veteran because he did not so indicate on his personal social media accounts is completely without merit, and fails to meet the requirement of the regulation for a protest of the service-disabled veteran status of the owner of a challenged concern. The fact that Mr. Summerour does not disclose his personal information regarding his disability status on public platforms, like LinkedIn and Facebook, is not grounds which can sustain a protest.
Meanwhile, OHA found no evidence that owning a holding company to maintain the property where the SDVO business is located distracted Mr. Summerour from controlling his business. OHA said: “[T]here is nothing to support Protestor’s allegation that Mr. Summerour does not work for Beacon during normal business hours, and therefore, none to support its contention that Mr. Summerour does not control Beacon.”
OHA concluded that Beacon Point had proven its eligibility and denied the protest.