(The Center Square) — Republicans on the U.S. Oversight Committee have begun an inquiry into why multiple allies of President Joe Biden have received federal contracts that are now under scrutiny.
The lawmakers sent a letter to Tae Johnson, acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, demanding documentation and written communication around an $87 million contract that was awarded to house illegal immigrants.
An Inspector General report later said that the contractor wasted $17 million because hotel rooms went unused.
“We write to express alarm at the potential waste of millions in taxpayer money and abuse of the contracting process by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials,” the letter, sent this week, said. “According to a recent Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Inspector General (OIG) report, ICE officials bypassed the ordinary competitive process to award a large, sole source $87 million contract and then wasted at least $17 million of taxpayer money because hotel rooms intended for migrant families sat empty and were mostly unused.
“Not only have the Biden Administration’s policies exacerbated the crisis on our border, it now appears the Administration is exploiting the crisis to reward its political allies with sole source contracts,” the letter added.
In addition to the reported waste, Republicans are questioning how the contract was awarded and if any wrongdoing occurred.
According to Republicans on the committee, Endeavors received the contract “after hiring Andrew Lorenzen-Strait as Senior Director for Migrant Services and Federal Affairs, a political ally of the Biden Administration. Mr. Lorenzen-Strait served on the Biden-Harris transition team and is a former official at ICE … The OIG’s investigation found that Endeavors sent an unsolicited proposal to ICE to house migrant families despite having no prior experience in providing these services.”
This latest Biden relationship is one of several under scrutiny. The lawmakers have also launched an inquiry into a major Democratic donor who received a spot on a White House council of advisors and another donor who received a major loan from a federal agency.
Now, Republicans are demanding answers.
“Wasting $17 million in unused hotel rooms paid for by the taxpayers is unacceptable. Unfortunately, these problems are not surprising given the potential conflicts of interest inherent in this particular contract,” the letter said. “A report has now surfaced that he is interviewing to return to ICE as its Chief of Staff. The revolving door appears to be quite lucrative for those who benefit from the Administration’s mismanagement of the border.”