Janitorial business owner sues Blunt over loss of contract following immigration raid

Thursday, October 25, 2007 | 12:32 p.m. CDT; updated 9:00 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

COLUMBIA — A business owner who lost his state contracts after an immigration raid is suing Gov. Matt Blunt, two state agencies and their directors for breach of contract and violation of the businessman’s constitutional rights.

The suit, filed Thursday morning, also challenges Blunt’s authority on immigration enforcement and alleges racial discrimination against the plaintiff, a native African who is a naturalized U.S. citizen.

K. “Sam” Asamoah-Boadu, the owner of Sam’s Janitorial Services in Jefferson City, alleges in the suit that the governor and state agencies overstepped the boundaries of state and federal law when they terminated his contracts to clean several state buildings in the capital and barred him from bidding on other state contracts.

“It was basically putting an end to him professionally,” said David Moen, Asamoah-Boadu’s lawyer, who filed the suit in Cole County Circuit Court.

The lawsuit was filed against Blunt; the State of Missouri Office of Administration; its commissioner, Michael Keathley; the Division of Purchasing and Materials Management; and its director, James Miluski. The suit seeks reinstatement of Asamoah-Boadu’s contracts, access to future contracts, “fair and reasonable” actual damages and punitive damages.

Gov. Blunt’s office issued a statement Thursday afternoon defending the governor’s actions against the contractor, which he said benefited Missourians.

The Missouri Office of Administration terminated Asamoah-Boadu’s contracts on March 6, after 25 of Sam’s Janitorial Services’ employees were detained on suspicion of having false documentation in an immigration raid by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, Capitol Police and state law enforcement.

Eight of the 25 employees were indicted in federal court on charges of possessing false Social Security numbers and identification cards. Four were found guilty or pleaded guilty over the summer, according to the lawsuit.

“There’s no evidence at all, absolutely none, that Sam knew anything,” Moen said. “Lo and behold, four (employees) had fraudulently made documents that were really well made because they had fooled everybody.”

Asamoah-Boadu provided the Division of Purchasing and Capitol Police with copies of Social Security and Alien Registration cards for all non-U.S. citizen employees, the suit states. The agencies approved all employees and never raised any questions about their immigration status, according to the lawsuit.

The suit also challenges the legality of Blunt’s enforcing immigration law and issuing an executive order that allows the state to take action against contractors who employ illegal immigrants, knowingly or not.

“States don’t have the right to decide who immigrates to the U.S.; the federal government does. (Blunt) has decided that he’s going to enforce a new standard,” Moen said. “It would not be his windmill to joust with.”

Asamoah-Boadu also alleges he has been discriminated against because he was born in Ghana and is black, and because he chose to associate with Hispanics. His contracts, once terminated, were given to B&G Cleaning, a business that once hired three of the four workers convicted of using false documentation, the lawsuit states.

A phone call made to the Kansas City-based parent company of B&G Cleaning was not immediately returned.

“The contractor who had employed these illegals previously, the governor gives this contract to,” Moen said. “This really is a hypocritical approach to law enforcement.”

Moen said he and his client fear the Sam’s Janitorial Services case will reinforce discrimination against Hispanic workers.

“What you’re basically creating is a situation where nobody that’s a contractor in the state of Missouri is going to hire any Hispanics,” Moen said. “Who’s going to take that risk? If you hire a bunch of Hispanics, they’re going to come after you.”

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