BISMARCK, ND (AP) – The Department of Defense internal watchdog said its investigation into a $ 400 million border wall contract revealed it was properly awarded to a North Dakota company whose the owner had used multiple Fox News appearances to lobby for the post.
The Pentagon inspector general on Monday released the results of the audit, requested last year by House Homeland Committee chairman Bennie Thompson, a Democrat from Mississippi.
Thompson requested a review of the contract awarded to Dickinson, North Dakota Fisher Sand and Gravel Co. by the US Army Corps of Engineers to ensure that the company’s bid meets standards and that the contract was awarded in accordance with federal procurement regulations.
“We looked at Fisher Sand and Gravel’s proposal, compared it to the tender and agreed with (the Corps) assessment that it was LPTA (technically lowest price) and that the contract was properly awarded, “said the audit.
Company president Tommy Fisher is a supporter of the GOP and has appeared in conservative media touting his company as the best choice to build the wall that former President Donald Trump made a priority.
The company was awarded a contract to build 31 miles of wall in Arizona, as part of a series of contracts to push back the increase in mileage. Fisher had made several appearances on Trump’s favorite cable news channel – Fox News – to talk about his desire to land a contract. His company, however, had little experience with such a construction and a previous proposal was rejected.
The company has long claimed that it can build a US-Mexico border wall cheaper and faster than its competitors.
The North Dakota congressional delegation, all Republicans and staunch Trump supporters, has long touted Fisher’s company as the best choice for the job.
Trump has repeatedly urged the Army Corps to award contracts to Fisher Sand and Gravel, and Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, has also supported the company’s selection.
Thompson, requesting the audit, wrote: “These actions raise concerns about the possibility of improper influence on (the Corps’) contracting decision.
The Inspector General’s report states that Corps officials said “there had been no undue influence” and that none of the documents examined by investigators “provided evidence that there was had undue influence from the White House or members of Congress “which affected the award of the contract. at Fisher Sand and Gravel.
The report, however, noted that investigators were unable to elicit responses from some Corps employees because they were ordered by administration attorneys “not to answer our questions. specific on communications between the White House and senior officials (Corps) ”.