A former White House aide won a $3 million federal contract to supply respirator masks to Navajo Nation hospitals in New Mexico and Arizona 11 days after he created a company to sell personal protective equipment in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Zach Fuentes, President Donald Trump’s former deputy chief of staff, secured the deal with the Indian Health Service with limited competitive bidding and no prior federal contracting experience.
The IHS told ProPublica it has found that 247,000 of the masks delivered by Fuentes’ company — at a cost of roughly $800,000 — may be unsuitable for medical use. An additional 130,400, worth about $422,000, are not the type specified in the procurement data, the agency said.
What’s more, the masks Fuentes agreed to provide — Chinese-made KN95s — have come under intense scrutiny from U.S. regulators amid concerns that they offered inadequate protection.
“The IHS Navajo Area Office will determine if these masks will be returned,” the agency said in a statement. The agency said it is verifying Fuentes’ company’s April 8 statement to IHS that all the masks were certified by the Food and Drug Administration, and an FDA spokesperson said the agency cannot verify if the products were certified without the name of the manufacturer.
Hospitals in the Navajo Nation, which spans Utah, New Mexico and Arizona, have been desperate for protective supplies as the numbers of coronavirus infections and deaths have grown quickly. As of Friday, the Navajo Nation reported 4,434 COVID-19 cases and 147 deaths, a crisis that has prompted outcries from members of Congress and demands for increased funding.
May 22, 2020
In interviews with CNN, CDC officials say their agency’s efforts to mount a coordinated response to the Covid-19 pandemic have been hamstrung by a White House whose decisions are driven by politics rather than science. […]
“We’ve been muzzled,” said a current CDC official. “What’s tough is that if we would have acted earlier on what we knew and recommended, we would have saved lives and money.”
May 20, 2020
A company whose largest shareholder is Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale received nearly $800,000 from the federal coronavirus relief fund for small businesses, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
The company, CloudCommerce, was eligible for the low-interest loan through the Paycheck Protection Program, which is aimed at businesses with fewer than 500 workers. The program provides 1% loans that can be forgiven entirely if companies use 75% of the money to retain and pay workers.
Companies can borrow 2.5 times their monthly payroll, up to $100,000 per employee. CloudCommerce had 49 employees at the end of 2019, according to another filing with the SEC.
May 14, 2020
A private jet company founded by a donor to President Donald Trump received nearly $27 million in government funding under a program run by the Treasury Department, according to government filings.
Clay Lacy Aviation, a private jet charter company based in Van Nuys, California, that serves wealthy executives and celebrities, received the government grant as part of the CARES Act, a $2 trillion federal stimulus package aimed at supporting jobs during the coronavirus crisis.
The company appears to have received the largest grant of any private jet company on the list. The vast majority of the other 96 recipients of government funding or loans on the list are major commercial airlines, regional carriers or support companies.
The funding is a grant rather than a loan, and doesn’t need to be repaid to the government. The money is part of the CARES Act program to “compensate aviation industry workers and preserve jobs.”
May 14, 2020