A record-breaking $1.3 billion border wall contract was awarded to a North Dakota firm whose CEO praised President Trump on Fox News.
Fisher Sand and Gravel had been chosen to build 42 miles of painted black fencing through southern Arizona.
The contract is the largest ever awarded in what has become a historically expensive infrastructure project.
While the company was initially passed over in its bids to secure the government’s recent border wall contract, it won the deal after CEO Tommy Fisher took to Fox News and other networks closely watched by President Trump to celebrate his efforts along the US-Mexico border.
The family-owned company has a history of red flags including more than $1 million in fines for environmental and tax violations.
A decade ago, a former co-owner of the company pleaded guilty to tax fraud, and was sentenced to prison.
The company also admitted to defrauding the federal government by impeding the IRS.
The former executive, who’s a brother of the current company owner, is no longer associated with it.
Democratic lawmakers had raised concerns that the White House had improperly influenced the procurement process.
The new contract was not officially announced by the DOD nor Customs and Border Protection, further infuriating Congressional Democrats.
‘It speaks volumes to the administration’s lack of transparency that they didn’t announce this award – the largest ever – and we continue to learn about contracts to companies without a proven track record from the media,’ House Homeland Security Chairman Bennie Thompson said in a statement to The Post.
‘Given the coronavirus pandemic and the ongoing investigation into Fisher, the administration should pause construction and contracting decisions until the investigation has concluded favorably and it is safe to resume nonessential construction projects,’ Thompson added.
But Trump has continued to talk about the wall amid the coronavirus pandemic.
And in White House meetings, according to The Post’s reporting, he’s brought up Fisher, as he’s added $500 million to the wall’s pricetag in order to paint it black.
According to The Post’s estimates the paint job adds $1.2 million a mile to the overall price.
Trump has argued the darker color will be hot to the touch in the sun, making the wall harder to climb.
Last year, Fisher sued the Army Corps of Engineers in order to be added to the eligible firms to bid on wall contracts.
The Post reported that Sen. Kevin Cramer, who represents Fisher’s home state of North Dakota, spoke to Trump about Fisher and held up a White House budget nominee as a way to get the Army Corps of Engineers to disclose information about the bidding process.
Fisher was eventually added to the list, and while the project has a $30 million a mile tab, one official told The Post that it was the cheapest bid the government received for that section of the U.S.-Mexico border.