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Fisher Sand & Gravel awarded $1.28B for border wall construction

A section of border fence on the U.S. - Mexico border is seen in Tecate, California on June 10, 2019. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
A section of border fence on the U.S. - Mexico border is seen in Tecate, California on June 10, 2019. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

May 19 (UPI) -- A North Dakota construction company that drew scrutiny for a previous contract won a $1.28 billion border wall construction contract earlier in May.

Fisher Sand & Gravel's new contract was not announced by the Department of Defense, which has awarded several border wall contracts, or by Customs & Border Patrol, but was reported by the Arizona Daily Star.

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It's set to fund about 42 miles of border wall in Arizona, from Nogales to the eastern boundary of the Tohono O'odham Nation.

In December Fisher Sand & Gravel was awarded $400 million to build a wall near Yuma County, Ariz.

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The company's CEO, Tommy Fisher, publicly campaigned for wall contracts and paid $145,000 to discuss the border wall with lawmakers and the Army Corps of Engineers.

Fisher's campaign has provoked public admiration from President Donald Trump, but also accusations of undue influence from Democrats -- and an audit from the Pentagon's inspector general, which officials say is still ongoing.

That audit is still ongoing.

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Fisher has said he can build a wall more cheaply than other contractors, but the new award to Fisher costs about $30 million per mile of wall, making it more expensive than other contracts for the wall -- and making the wall one of the largest federal infrastructure projects in American history.

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About 180 miles have been built since January 2017, and acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said last week that he expects to see as many as 400 miles of completed wall this year.

Congressional Democrats called for a halt to border construction projects this spring due to the coronavirus pandemic, but the DoD has awarded numerous contracts for wall construction, including others that have drawn criticism due to high costs and possible undue influence.

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In April Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) asked the acting Inspector General of the Department of Defense to review a $569 million border wall contract awarded earlier that month to BFBC, a Montana-based company whose CEO has a history of donations to Trump's campaign as well as other Republican races.

Their letter also points to the high per-mile cost of BFBC's proposed project -- in that case $33 million per mile.

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