2019-12-03 03:36:22

 

A construction company owned by a Republican donor has been given a $400m (£308.5m) contract to build sections of Donald Trump’s border wall.

The Department of Defence has announced Fisher Sand and Gravel Co, from North Dakota, will build new barriers in Arizona following reports that Mr Trump repeatedly pushed for the company to be given the contract, despite concerns from engineering officials.

Mr Trump had urged officials from the Army Corps of Engineers to pick the company, according to Washington Post reports, and is a fan of the company’s CEO, Tommy Fisher, who has appeared on Fox News to promote the firm.

However, he was apparently told that Fisher Sand and Gravel’s bid did not meet the standards required for the project.

The company has also been supported by senator Kevin Cramer, a Republican from North Dakota, who was given $10,000 by the Fisher family for his Senate campaign in 2018.

Mr Cramer said he was “glad to see more progress being made” on the border wall and “grateful” that Fisher Sand and Gravel had been awarded the contract.

“I know they will do very well, performing high quality work at a good bargain, all for the security of the people of the United States,” he said in a statement.

The Republican senator took Mr Fisher as his guest to the 2018 State of the Union address but said he has not pushed Mr Trump to pick the firm, even though he welcomed the idea of a North Dakota company winning the contract.

Mr Cramer said in May that the president “always brings [the company] up” in conversations and Mr Trump likes Mr Fisher because he has seen him advocating for his firm’s plan on TV.

Fisher Sand and Gravel has claimed it can build the wall faster and cheaper than other companies.

It also has a record of more than $1m in fines for environmental and tax violations, according to CNN, and its former co-owner pleaded guilty to tax fraud and was sentenced to 37 months in prison in 2009.

When asked by CNN about these violations and legal problems, the company said the issues were “resolved years ago” and had “nothing to do with the excellent product and work that Fisher is proposing with regard to protecting America’s southern border”.

In April, Mr Trump mentioned Mr Fisher on Fox News after the company offered to build 234 miles of the border wall for $1.4bn – a fraction of the $8bn cost projected for the project.

When Fox News host Sean Hannity asked about the bid, the president replied that his administration was “dealing with him [Mr Fisher]” and said the company was “recommended strongly by a great new senator, Kevin Cramer”.

Fisher Sand and Gravel has worked with a number of Trump allies, including former adviser Steve Bannon, to build border fences on private land using donations.

Mr Trump has pledged to build 450 to 500 miles of new border barriers by the end of 2020 but so far his administration has only built about 85 miles of new fencing, which has mostly replaced smaller old structures that existed before he took office in 2017.

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