The Office of Inspector General for the Department of Defense will investigate a $400 million contract to construct a border wall in Arizona that was given to a North Dakota company that President Donald Trump advocated for, and whose owner gave Arizona Sen. Martha McSally’s 2018 campaign the maximum allowed under the law.
The OIG investigation was prompted by a letter from Rep. Dennie Thompson, D-Miss., who chairs the House Homeland Security Committee. Thompson noted that the company, North Dakota-based Fisher Sand & Gravel, had never been awarded a government construction contract, didn’t “meet the operational requirements of U.S. Customs and Border Protection” and may have been selected after “inappropriate influence” by the White House.
In 2018, the company’s CEO, Tommy Fisher, contributed $5,400 to McSally’s 2018 U.S. Senate campaign, the most legally allowed for the 2018 campaign cycle. McSally lost narrowly to Democrat Kyrsten Sinema, but was appointed to the Senate by Gov. Doug Ducey to fill out the remainder of the term that the late John McCain was elected to serve.
Fisher also gave to other Arizona congressional Republicans in 2018, giving $4,200 to Rep. Debbie Lesko and $2,700 each to Andy Biggs and David Schweikert.
Since becoming a senator, McSally has supported Trump’s efforts to build a border wall, a core promise of his 2016 campaign for president. In February 2019, she met with Fisher and North Dakota Sen. Kevin Cramer – who held up the confirmation of a White House official as he attempted to steer contracts to Fisher – to talk about border security.
A month later, Trump declared a border emergency and said the administration would divert money from Department of Defense projects to pay for building the border wall. McSally voted against a resolution to block the national emergency declaration.
About $30 million of the $3.6 billion diverted to fund wall construction came from planned repairs for the Ft. Huachuca Ground Transport Equipment Building in Arizona. In 2017, when money for the project was awarded, the Army said that the buildings don’t meet standards for vehicle testing and maintenance, exposing soldiers to “unsafe” facilities that “jeopardize personnel health, security and safety.”
The House Republicans from Arizona also voted against the March and September measures to block using the military money on border wall construction.
McSally has also received campaign contributions in 2019 from the head of another construction company that has received a contract to build a border wall in Arizona. BFBC LLC, an affiliate of Barnard Construction from Bozeman, Montana, was given a $260 million contract to build two sections of wall near Yuma, according to The Arizona Republic.
Timothy Barnard, the chairman of Barnard Construction, wrote two checks to McSally’s 2020 Senate campaign in July totalling $3,750.