Audit Finds No Undue Influence From WH, Congress in Awarding of Border Wall Contract

A probe into a $400 million border wall contract found that there was no undue influence when it was awarded to a North Dakota-based firm, according to audit results released Monday by the Pentagon's inspector general. Tommy Fisher, the president of Fisher Sand and Gravel Co., made multiple appearances on Fox News to campaign for the job ahead of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' decision to give his firm the contract, the Associated Press reported.

Building a wall along Mexico's shared border with the U.S. was a top campaign platform and administration priority for former President Donald Trump. Fisher, a GOP supporter, made appearances on conservative media to promote his company as the best choice for fulfilling one of the main promises of Trump's presidency, according to the AP.

Trump called on the Army Corps multiple times to choose Fisher Sand and Gravel for the job. Jared Kushner, the former president's son-in-law and senior adviser, also backed the company for the contract.

House Homeland Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, a Democrat from Mississippi, requested the investigation last year to determine whether Fisher Sand and Gravel Co. obtained the construction contract in a way that was in accordance with federal procurement regulations.

He noted the encouragement from people like Trump and Kushner in his request for the probe, saying that their actions "raise concerns about the possibility of inappropriate influence on [the Corps'] contracting decision."

However, the audit determined that the job was "properly awarded."

"We reviewed Fisher Sand and Gravel's proposal, compared it to the solicitation, and agreed with (the Corps') assessment that it was the LPTA (Lowest Price Technically Acceptable) and was properly awarded the contract," the audit said.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Border Wall Contract Investigation
A probe into a $400 million border wall contract found that there was no undue influence when it was awarded to a North Dakota-based firm. Pictured above is an older section of the border wall between Ciudad Juarez, Mexico and Sunland Park, New Mexico on January 12, 2021. Christian Chavez/AP Photo

The company was awarded a contract to build 31 miles of wall in Arizona, part of a series of contracts to push out increased mileage. Fisher had made a number of appearances on Trump's favorite cable news channel—Fox News—talking about his desire to win a contract. His firm, though, had little experience with such construction and a previous proposal was rejected.

The company has long claimed it can build a U.S.-Mexico border wall cheaper and faster than its competitors.

North Dakota's congressional delegation, all of whom are Republicans and ardent Trump supporters, has long touted Fisher's company as the best pick for the work.

The inspector general's report said Corps officials testified that "there was no undue influence," and that none of the documents reviewed by investigators "provided evidence that there was undue influence from the White House or members of Congress" that affected the award of the contract to Fisher Sand and Gravel.

The report, however, noted investigators weren't able to get answers from some Corps employees because they were instructed by administration lawyers "to not answer our specific questions about communications between the White House and senior [Corps] officials."

Thompson Audit
Representative Bennie Thompson requested an investigation last year to determine whether Fisher Sand and Gravel Co. obtained a $400 million border wall construction contract in a way that was in accordance with federal procurement regulations. Above, Thompson speaks at the ceremonial start of construction of the Continental AG's $1.45 billion tire plant in Clinton, Mississippi, on November 3, 2016. Rogelio V. Solis/AP Photo