The Obama administration this month awarded a $25 million federal contract for work in Afghanistan to a company owned by a prominent Democratic campaign contributor without entertaining competitive bids, Fox News has learned.
Despite President Obama’s long history of criticizing the Bush administration for “sweetheart deals” with favored contractors, the Obama administration this month awarded a $25 million federal contract for work in Afghanistan to a company owned by a Democratic campaign contributor without entertaining competitive bids, Fox News has learned.
The contract, awarded on Jan. 4 to Checchi & Company Consulting, Inc., a Washington-based firm owned by economist and Democratic donor Vincent V. Checchi, will pay the firm $24,673,427 to provide “rule of law stabilization services” in war-torn Afghanistan.
A synopsis of the contract published on the USAID Web site says Checchi & Company will “train the next generation of legal professionals” throughout the Afghan provinces and thereby “develop the capacity of Afghanistan’s justice system to be accessible, reliable, and fair.”
The legality of the arrangement as a “sole source,” or no-bid, contract was made possible by virtue of a waiver signed by the USAID administrator. “They cancelled the open bid on this when they came to power earlier this year,” a source familiar with the federal contracting process told Fox News.
“That’s kind of weird,” said another source, who has worked on “rule of law” issues in both Afghanistan and Iraq, about the no-bid contract to Checchi & Company. “There’s lots of companies and non-governmental organizations that do this sort of work.”
Just what did candidate Obama promise while on the campaign trail? Read on:
As a candidate for president in 2008, then-Sen. Obama frequently derided the Bush administration for the awarding of federal contracts without competitive bidding.
“I will finally end the abuse of no-bid contracts once and for all,” the senator told a Grand Rapids audience on Oct. 2. “The days of sweetheart deals for Halliburton will be over when I’m in the White House.”
Those remarks echoed an earlier occasion, during a candidates’ debate in Austin, Texas on Feb. 21, when Mr. Obama vowed to upgrade the government’s online databases listing federal contracts.
“If (the American people) see a bridge to nowhere being built, they know where it’s going and who sponsored it,” he said to audience laughter, “and if they see a no-bid contract going to Halliburton, they can check that out too.”
Less than two months after he was sworn into office, President Obama signed a memorandum that he claimed would “dramatically reform the way we do business on contracts across the entire government.”
Flanked by aides and lawmakers at the Dwight D. Eisenhower Executive Office Building on March 4, Obama vowed to “end unnecessary no-bid and cost-plus contracts,” adding: “In some cases, contracts are awarded without competition….And that’s completely unacceptable.”
The March 4 memorandum directed the Office of Management and Budget to “maximize the use of full and open competition” in the awarding of federal contracts.
Federal campaign records show Checchi has been a frequent contributor to liberal and Democratic causes and candidates in recent years, including to Obama’s presidential campaign.
Here’s video of then-candidate Obama’s remarks:
Politifact can now add this unkept promise to their growing list. By the time it’s all over, they’ll need to issue at least a 12 volume encyclopedia set of things said on the campaign trail that have not matched post-2008 election reality.