SBA Faith-Based Office Emails with Oklahoma Senators’ Staff

Small Business Administration Director of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives Todd Pauley’s emails with Oklahoma senators and staff members, including communications about the administration’s “opportunity zones” initiative.

In these documents:

Page 19: On April 17, 2019, Todd Pauley, the director of the Small Business Administration’s Faith Based and Community Initiatives, forwarded a press release to Todd Lamphere, a Global Ministries pastor with the New Destiny Christian Center. The church was led by Paula White, President Donald Trump’s “spiritual adviser” and chairwoman of his evangelical advisory board, before she stepped down in May 2019. The emailed press release, titled “President Trump is lifting up communities that have been left behind,” detailed the Trump administration’s push for investment in “opportunity zones” and his remarks that day at the White House Opportunity Zone Conference, where he thanked White for her help.

Page 24: On March 4, 2019, Pauley wrote to a staffer in Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe’s office: “It was great seeing you this morning. I pray your trip to DC is a blessed and successful one. […] Let me know if you need anything while you are here.” 

Page 39: On April 25, 2019, Pauley wrote to Sarah Seitz, legislative director and general counsel for Lankford, about including language related to faith-based work in an “interagency field manual” and the White House’s “opportunity zone” implementation plan

“I was able to work w HUD and we have a section now on faith based going in the interagency field manual and there is a chance to get some language in the reports for the work streams as I’m working on entrepreneurship. I did ask the WH PL office to help get some more Lang in the implementation plan but to no avail.”

Pauley also mentioned meeting with Scott Turner, former NFL player and director of the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council: “I’m convinced we could really pick up some momentum on Faith Based if Scott had a deputy or faith based person with him as the moral compass for opportunity zones so to speak.” 

Page 52: On April 15, 2019, Maressa Treat, state outreach director for Oklahoma Senator James Lankford, introduced Pauley to Jon Chiappe, director of research and economic analysis services at the Oklahoma Department of Commerce. Pauley wrote: “We are excited about the Centers of Faith and Opportunity being developed driven by USDA. SBA has an MOU with USDA and the two agencies are working toward working closer together especially on Opportunity Zones.”

Chiappe responded: “I have visited with HUD, and I would love to visit with you about non-profits, foundations and our faith communities and revitalizing our high poverty areas. Are you based in DC?” 

Before joining the Small Business Administration, Pauley worked for Lankford as a senior adviser and political director. He has also made donations to Inhofe’s 2020 re-election campaign.

Pages 57–59: On May 31, 2019, Pauley confirmed a meeting for June 5 with the Senate Values Action Team (VAT), a group within the Republican Study Committee that Lankford has co-chaired since 2018. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson and Holly Ham, executive director of the White House Initiative for Asian American and Pacific Islanders, were expected to attend. 

Page 63: In an email dated May 22, 2019, with the subject line “SBA Advocacy,” Lankford thanked Pauley for what appears to be a list of questions, likely in preparation for that day’s Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs hearing on the reauthorization of the SBA Office of Advocacy. Pauley wrote, “Obviously remember that Office of Advocacy is lacking a political leadership position and the person testify today I believe is not from the Administration but career.” The first question on his list is “What is the Office of Advocacy doing to protect the religious freedom rights of small businesses?”

Page 65: On May 14, 2019, Pauley emailed a staffer in Lankford’s office to arrange a meeting with the White House’s Scott Turner: “Senator Lankford said he would meet with him on Thursday while Scott is in DC for the day if it could work at all on his schedule.” 

Page 83: An email from Lankford’s office dated March 29, 2019, confirmed a VAT meeting on April 3 that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos was expected to attend. The meeting’s focus was “on values issues in education.”