Trump Pays GOP Donors To Build Border Wall Out Of Ventilators
These are tough times, but if you know the right people — and especially if you've thrown money at the right political party — you might just get through them, with a little help from your friends. If you're a Montana-based construction outfit that gives lots of money to Republicans, for instance, you might get over half a billion dollars from the Army to build 17 miles of WALL to keep out the coronavirus. As the Daily Beast reports, the $569 million contract was awarded last Tuesday to BFBC, a subsidiary of an outfit called Barnard Construction, to put up sections of Trump's Folly in San Diego and El Centro, California.
The new money is on top of another $440 million the company got last year through the Army Corps of Engineers. That's over a billion dollars since last May, for BFBC to build about 37 total miles of WALL. And of course, most of the money for WALL has been shifted from parts of the military budget that Congress allocated for other stuff in the first place, because the border is an emergency.
But it's worth every penny, because wow, does it ever trigger the libs, like people in nonprofit "watchdog" groups like the Project on Government Oversight, merely because it reeks of "corruption," as if that were somehow "illegal."
Scott Amey, the group's general counsel, has called for the feds to investigate the contract, should there be any inspectors general left in the government at all, calling the money "a travesty" and doing some math at us:
That's nearly $27 million per mile, which is well above other wall costs. These efforts might make good on a campaign promise, but who is minding the store and ensuring that military readiness and bases are not negatively impacted?
Just for shits and giggles, the Daily Beast story also breaks down the cost for the newest, 17.17-mile expansion of BFBC's contract, which comes out to $33 million per mile, compared to the average (and still ridiculous) WALL cost of $20 million a mile. But maybe there are really good reasons for the extra charges, we bet. Who knows, maybe they'll need to kill off higher numbers of endangered species in those spots. You just never know. And of course, BFBC didn't even have to submit a bid for the extra half-billion of new funds.
In fact, as the story points out, BFBC has been really good at getting a hell of a lot of money added to its WALL contract, which was initially awarded back in May 2019, for a paltry $141.8 million, to build chunks of WALL in El Centro and Yuma, Arizona. Soon, federal databases show, a lot more money began swarming the company. Such huge, overwhelming amounts of cash that we bet Barnard Construction's management felt overrun by the many federal dollars that were invading their bank accounts.
The first modification listed in the Federal Procurement Data System contracting database, dated May 20, shows the contract ballooning to $443.6 million. A vague reference to a "supplemental agreement for work within scope" is the only listed explanation. An Army spokesperson confirmed that the El Centro/Yuma contract was "definitized" in September at $440 million, three times the original award's value.
But in February  — well after the CDC identified the first case of COVID-19 in the U.S. — the Army spokesperson continued in a statement to The Daily Beast, the government "requested BFBC design and construct an additional 17.17 miles of border barrier in El Centro and San Diego, CA." Its explanation for the no-bid contract is that BFBC was already "mobilized and working… in close proximity" to where it wanted to build more of the wall. It gave BFBC the additional $569 million on Apr. 11.
BFBC bravely rose to challenge, and at no point did it warn that its coffers were full or that it would resist more money with lethal force. And the Army Corps clearly chose BFBC because it's the best company for the job and just happened to be in the area. Isn't that how an initial contract for $141.8 million balloons to over a billion dollars?
The people who own and run Barnard Construction, BFBC's parent company, are very enthusiastic about Republican campaigns, especially in Montana. Using Federal Election Commission filings, the Daily Beast details not only the contributions made to Trump's reelection campaign by Timothy Barnard and his wife, Mary, but also a great big pile of money thrown at the Montana GOP and various Republican candidates by the Barnards, as well as by a bunch of the company's top executives and board. They've helped out Rep. Greg Gianforte, Sen. Steve Daines, and in 2018 they also pumped a combined total of $49,300 into "committees affiliated with the unsuccessful Senate candidacy of State Auditor Matt Rosendale, who challenged Democratic Sen. Jon Tester." Beyond that, Timothy Barnard has given money to big names outside Montana, too, with donations to Trumpy Sens. Martha McSally, John Cornyn, Cory Gardner, and Thom Tillis.
What, you have a problem with people using their money to do free speech? Go read the article for the details; we'd just point out that all the donations from the Barnards and the company's executives total up to like $200K, which seems like a pretty good investment for a billion-dollar set of contracts. Not that there's a quid pro quo or anything.
Now, just in case you're wondering, because we sure were, BFBC is a different company from that other one you may have heard about, North Dakota-based Fisher Sand and Gravel. That's the company whose CEO, Tommy Fisher, has gone on Fox News and said he really would be the best choice, and for whom Donald Trump and his close personal friend Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-North Dakota) have both personally lobbied. Surprise! After initially being rejected, Fisher's company got a nice fat WALL contract in May, at the same time BFBC also got its initial contract, which is probably a huge coincidence. The Pentagon's Inspector General Office announced in December it would investigate the contract with Fisher, so maybe this BFBC contract needs a look, too? Now that Trump has fired Pentagon IG Glenn Fine from the 'Rona oversight job (but not from his Pentagon post), perhaps Fine will get the hint and do fewer inspections in general. Or since everything we've seen says he's got some integrity, he'll probably keep digging and force Trump to fire him for being such a mean witch hunter.
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Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.