Seasons Greetings

Flash News: Trump Campaign's Brad Parscale Taken into Custody After Wife Reports He's Possibly Suicidal     - | -     Polls Show Biden Leads Trump by 10% and Public Trusts Him More to Fill SCOTUS Seat     - | -     Biden Attacks Trump for Trying to Kill ACA, Schumer Says SCOTUS Pick Will 'Tear Down' RBG Legacy     - | -     NYT Reports Trump Only Paid $750 in Federal Taxes in 2016 and 2017     - | -     This Is What GOP Feared. Now that Trump Has Governed with Executive Orders, Dems Plan to Do Same      - | -     Man Throwing 'Incendiary Devices' at ICE Detention Center Is Killed in Attack      - | -     Mueller Hearing Pushed Back a Week to Allow More Time for Him to Answer Questions      - | -     Trump Tells 4 Congresswomen of Color to 'Go Back' to 'Crime-Infested' Countries They Came From      - | -     GOP Congressman Invokes 'The Deep State'

National News

Trump's Favored Construction Co. Lands Biggest Border Wall Contract So Far

viewsViews 219

Trump's Favored Construction Co. Lands Biggest Border Wall Contract So Far

2020-05-20 18:16:05

By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: Border wall construction (Image source: Public domain)

It's probably not lost on many that with just six months to go before the election, and Donald Trump's border wall project not near complete, that he needs to find a way to get it done and get it back in the news. He doesn't need to be in the news anymore for his failures with his pandemic response. He needs to be in the news for completing a campaign promise, such as the border wall.

It was most likely these reasons that a North Dakota construction company that Trump backed won the largest border wall contract that has ever been awarded. Fisher Sand and Gravel and its CEO, Republican donor Tommy Fisher, received a $1.3 billion deal to build 42 miles of fencing through southern Arizona. The fencing will bear Trump's design implement of being painted black. 

Trump has repeatedly pushed Fisher Sand and Gravel in White House meetings with border officials and military commanders after the CEO repeatedly pushed Trump to hire his company.

The company was initially passed over when bids first went out for the border wall. Fisher started a campaign by praising Trump on the news, donating to his allies, and creating ties with allies as well, including former Trump adviser Steve Bannon and Republican Senate candidate Kris Kobach. 

It comes at a very curious time, as the only major border contract to be awarded to the construction company is under review by the Defense Department inspector general. Democratic lawmakers believe there was improper White House influence with the $400 million contract.

The newest contract will cost more than $300 million per mile of border barrier. This makes it the most expensive contract for Trump's wall so far. 

While the Arizona Daily Star reported that Fisher had landed the contract, the Defense Department and Customs and Border Protection have not announced it yet.

This span of border south of Tucson will give engineers significant difficulties as it is a steep terrain that has water crossings. This includes the Santa Cruz River basin that floods during "monsoon" storms. An official with knowledge said Fisher's bid was the lowest for that particular span of border. 

Trump put an even higher price tag on the border wall by insisting it be painted black. Government contracting estimates have the black paint adding approximately $1.2 million per mile.

A Corps of Engineers spokeswoman, Raini Brunson, confirmed the contract with Fisher and said the amounts of contracts are determined by many factors. "Each project cost is contingent upon its unique characteristics, such as geotechnical, topographical, hydrological and hydraulic, underground utilities, final real estate access, and the cost of materials and labor," she said. 

Brunson added that the Fisher contract consists of "a series of projects within a geographical area with more complex terrain.

Army Corps of Engineers rules forced the contract to go to the lowest bidder, yet it was awarded after Trump again brought up Fisher in meetings. He also insisted on the steel barrier being painted black. This alone will add at least $500 million to the cost of the wall. He has said the darker color will absorb more solar radiation and burn the hands of undocumented immigrants trying to climb it. Engineers say it will increase maintenance costs and will boost heat absorption by less than 10 percent. 

House Homeland Security Chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS) slammed the contract, stating, "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."

"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." 

A CBP official familiar with the area between Nogales, Arizona, and the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge said building a barrier wall there will be "a challenge" and that the higher cost of the contract was most likely due to its "remoteness, rugged terrain, and logistical challenges."

Trump ally Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) had urged the president to hire Fisher and has also criticized the Corps of Engineers for not hiring Fisher initially. Fisher donated to Cramer's Senate campaign and even did appearances with him last year.  

Fisher has built border barriers on private land for the activist group We Build the Wall. Bannon, Kobach, and Blackwater USA founder Erik Prince sit on the board. The president of the group, Brian Kolfage, is known to go up against environmental groups and immigrant advocates.

"ANOTHER HUGE WIN! Congrats Tommy Fisher!" Kolfage tweeted. "It's clear you built @WeBuildtheWall the best border wall ever on the US border, and now you're being rewarded for your hard work." 

Last year Fisher sued the Army Corps of Engineers when it wasn't one of the companies selected to be eligible to bid on border wall contracts. Cramer went to bat for Fisher, and the company was then added to the pool of eligible bidders. Once it was on a level playing field, it was able to outbid the others.

Fisher has said he can build the wall faster and for les money. This is something Trump needs, as it was a campaign promise in 2016, so he needs to make sure it's done four years later. The most recent figures show 187 miles of border wall has been finished of the nearly 500 miles of new fencing needed for the wall. 

Not only is it interesting this is such a huge concern to the Trump administration in the midst of a global health crisis, but it's also interesting to note that Trump is willing to pay $500 million for black paint he hopes will keep undocumented immigrants out of the country, yet he's not willing to spend money to help state and local governments that are hurting because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Post Your Comment

Most Recent News

Trump Campaign's Brad Parscale Taken into Custody After Wife Reports He's Possibly Suicidal

29 September, 2020

By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: Brad Parscale (Image source: Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons)   We haven't heard much from Donald Trump's former campaign manager Brad Parscale......More

NFL: Seven From Sunday Week 3 - 3-0 Teams, Quarterbacks Russell Wilson, Josh Allen Shine

29 September, 2020

  -MLB release posted by Daniel Mogollon, Staff Writer; Image: Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen has the Bills 3-0. (Image Source: Timothy T Ludwig / Getty Images)​ A look at seven......More

Boxing: Conor McGregor Tweets He’s Going to Fight Manny Pacquiao

29 September, 2020

  Conor McGregor tweets he’s going to fight Manny Pacquiao in a boxing match  ...More