But it gets better, or worse, depending on one’s perspective.
A North Dakota based, family owned company Fisher Sand & Gravel with its troubled past is also the company hired by the
GoFundMe WeBuildTheWall group who just announced, with much fanfare, they had broken ground on their privately funded wall on private property in New Mexico in the El Paso southern border corridor just had its work shut down and were told to “cease-and-desist” due to lack of permit.
Trump had set his sights on a North Dakota construction firm because, they claimed, “it can build the wall cheaper and faster than competitors” and it was one of the handful of construction companies who were chosen in 2017 to build one of the recently demolished prototypes.
According to a CNN report, “It also, however, 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.”
Catching Trump’s Attention.
Fisher was founded in 1952 and has operated in several states. They also enjoy “the public support from North Dakota Republican Sen. Kevin Cramer, who as a congressman invited the company’s CEO, Tommy Fisher, to Trump’s State of the Union address in 2018.”
According to a Washington Post May 23rd report, alarming “military commanders and DHS officials” “President Trump has personally and repeatedly urged the head of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to award a border wall contract to a North Dakota construction firm whose top executive is a GOP donor and frequent guest on Fox News, according to four administration officials.”
According to an administration official with knowledge of the Oval Office meeting, Trump immediately brought up Fisher, a company that sued the U.S. government last month after the Army Corps did not accept its bid to install barriers along the southern border, a contract potentially worth billions of dollars.
Trump has latched on to the company’s public claims that a new weathered steel design and innovative construction method would vastly speed up the project — and deliver it at far less cost to taxpayers.
In a meeting on May 23, which included the commanding general of the Army Corps Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite and DHS leaders, Trump’s staff told Pentagon’s Army’s chief of staff General Mark Millery that Trump wanted to talk to Semonite about the border wall. According to an administration official “Trump immediately brought up Fisher, a company that sued the U.S. government last month after the Army Corps did not accept its bid to install barriers along the southern border, a contract potentially worth billions of dollars.”
Over the last two years Fisher has been attempting to “raise its public profile” through lobbying efforts and “repeated appearances on conservative media by its CEO, Tommy Fisher.” According to data from Open Secrets Fisher’s lobbying costs went from $5000 in 2017 to $75,000 in 2018.
Fisher also went on a media blitz, to outlets that include Fox News, SiriusXM Patriot, and Breitbart News, claiming that he could “build 234 miles of border wall for $4.3 billion, compared to the $5.7 billion that the Trump administration has requested from Congress” and that “his firm can work five-to-10 times faster than competitors as a result of its construction process.”
“The company says it has “developed a patent-pending bollard fence hanging system that [it] believes allows border fencing to be constructed faster than any contractor using common construction methods.””
In an interview with Hannity, Trump brought up Fisher, saying they were “recommended strongly by a great new senator, as you know, Kevin Cramer. And they’re real. But they have been bidding and so far they haven’t been meeting the bids. I thought they would.”
When Fisher lost the bid to Barnard Construction Co. and SLSCO Ltd, he “protested the awards over claims that the process was biased.”
In response, the Army Corps canceled the award. But after a review of the process, the Army Corps combined the projects and granted it to a subsidiary of Barnard Construction, according to an agency spokesperson.
It’s unclear whether the project will proceed, given the recent decision by a federal judge to block the use of Defense Department funds to build parts of the border wall and the administration’s appeal.
Fisher, which has a pending lawsuit in the US Court of Federal Claims over the solicitation process, is listed by the Defense Department as being among firms eligible to compete for future border contracts.
As Fisher’s lawsuit remains pending, the company “moved forward” with the private group WeBuildTheWall in Sunland Park, New Mexico who’s local mayor, according to a May 29 Washington Post report, sent the group a cease-and-desist letter.
The mayor said at a news conference that “officials were denied a chance to inspect the site last week and that the property’s owner had submitted documents to build the wall that typically take months, not days, to get approved.” [Emphasis mine]
Photos and videos of construction on the barrier, plastered to social media Monday by We Build The Wall Inc., seem to have appeased those who doubted whether the project was actually happening. The group now claims it is close to completing a half-mile stretch of wall in Sunland Park, N.M., and last week The Washington Post observed employees from North Dakota-based construction company Fisher Industries prepping a work site near the location. In recent months, President Trump has urged the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to give a border wall contract to the same firm, The Post reported.
““Here we go!! Liberals trying to intimidate us!” Brian Kolfage, who launched the viral border wall GoFundMe in December, wrote in a tweet. “SOUND THE ALARM.””
With Trump’s temporary block by the court from diverting funds not appropriated by Congress for his wall construction and Trump calling it “a ruling against Border Security and in favor of crime, drugs, and human trafficking,” Kolfage wrote that “he had other walls “lined up” and ready to go, declining to specify where,” reiterating his previous refusal for details because of “potential intervention from the ALCU and “other liberal groups,” adding, “we’re not stopping until we’re done.”
For full content and context, and the rest of the story about Fisher Industries and their relationship with Sen. Cramer, read: Company touted by Trump to build the wall has history of fines, violations; CNN.