Contract for stretch of Arizona border wall raises concerns of improper influence by Trump

 
Construction on the new 30-foot tall fence along the U.S.-Mexico border 2 miles east of the Lukeville, Arizona, port of entry.
/Mamta Popat / Arizona Daily Star

By Curt Prendergast | Arizona Daily Star  

A $268 million border wall contract awarded last week was the latest in a series of big-dollar contracts in Arizona, but it was the first to raise suspicions of improper interference by President Trump.

Fisher Sand and Gravel of North Dakota was awarded a contract to build 31 miles of border wall on the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge in the next year, according to a Dec. 2 news release from the Department of Defense, which is funding most of the border wall in Arizona. Another $132 million could be added to the contract if all options are exercised.

Two days after the contract was announced, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson, D-Miss., who serves as chair of the House Committee on Homeland Security, asked the inspector general of the defense department to review the award of the contract to ensure it followed federal procurement laws.

Thompson pointed to Washington Post stories in which administration officials said Trump “personally and repeatedly” urged the head of the Army Corps of Engineers to award a border wall contract to Fisher, even after Fisher’s design was rejected by the corps.

“These actions raise concerns about the possibility of inappropriate influence on USACE’s contracting decision,” Thompson wrote in a letter to the inspector general.

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