A top House Democrat on Wednesday called for an investigation into a $400 million contract that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) awarded to a North Dakota company after it won the support of President Trump.
Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.), the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, sent a letter to the Department of Defense Office of the Inspector General to request a review of the awarding of the contract to Fisher Sand and Gravel Co. to build several miles of barrier along the border with Mexico.
“Fisher Sand and Gravel Co. had not been awarded a construction contract prior to December 2, as its proposals reportedly did not meet the operational requirements of U.S. Customs and Border Protection and its prototype project came in late and over budget,” Thompson wrote.
“Nevertheless, President Trump has personally repeatedly urged USACE to award construction contracts to Fisher Sand and Gravel Co. Jared Kushner, whom President Trump recently named as the White House lead for border construction projects, has also reportedly supported the company’s selection,” he added. “These actions raise concerns about the possibility of inappropriate influence on USACE’s contracting decision.”
Fisher Sand and Gravel Co. won the contract Monday and will be charged with building 31 miles of barrier along the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge in Yuma County, Ariz. The deadline for the project’s completion is Dec. 30, 2020.
The president had pushed for the firm to be tasked with the job despite having been told Fisher’s bids did not meet the required standards, according to The Washington Post. The presidential endorsement came after the company’s CEO, Tommy Fisher, appeared on Fox News to promote his firm’s ability to swiftly construct the wall.
“We are excited to show our high quality work and this project gives us an opportunity to demonstrate the caliber of work our team has delivered to our customers for six decades, while helping to secure our southern border,” the company said this week.
Fisher Sand and Gravel Co. was first hired by the activist group We Build the Wall to build a 3.5-mile barrier outside of El Paso, Texas, along the Rio Grande, though the International Boundary Water Commission has yet to approve the project.