President Trump has for months urged the Army Corps of Engineers to hire a North Dakota company to build his anti-migrant wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.
And now that presidential pressure has paid off big for the company, Fisher Sand and Gravel.
Fisher was awarded a $400 million contract on Monday to raise a new 31-mile section of the border barrier across a wildlife refuge in Yuma County, Arizona.
Although the president was told previously that “Fisher’s bids did not meet [the Corps of Engineers’] standards,” reports the Washington Post, “Trump has been enamored with Tommy Fisher, the company’s chief executive, who has made multiple appearances on Fox News to promote his firm….”
Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) was Fisher’s top booster in Congress, saying in a statement on Tuesday that he’s “grateful to see a good North Dakota company like Fisher Industries getting some of the work” on the wall project.
Cramer has received thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from Tommy Fisher and his family, and was quoted earlier this year that Trump pushed strongly for the Fisher company to become a prime contractor for the wall.
“He always brings them up,” Cramer told the Post in May.
Trump’s words on Fisher’s behalf concerned many in government about potentially improper influence on government procurement rules requiring agencies to seek competitive bids without political interference.
“Trump has pledged to complete 450 to 500 miles of new border barriers by the end of next year,” the Post says. “So far his administration has built about 85 miles of fencing, almost all of it in areas where tall steel bollards are replacing smaller, older structures that were there before he took office.”
The site where Fisher will build the new barrier is within the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge; established in 1939 to protect desert bighorn sheep. It is the third largest national wildlife refuge in the lower 48 states, with an area of more than 860,000 acres, and home to more than 275 species of animals and almost 400 species of plants.
Most of the wildlife refuge is also preserved as the Cabeza Prieta Wilderness, once described by the late environmentalist and author Edward Abbey as “the best desert wilderness left in the United States.”