BISMARCK — A Dickinson company filed a lawsuit against the federal government late last month over what it called a "flawed" process used to award a construction contract for nearly 50 miles worth of U.S.-Mexico border fencing, though it appears a judge has already ruled against the firm.
Fisher Sand and Gravel Co. alleged that the Army Corps of Engineers "did not engage in the required, careful technical evaluation of which firm was most highly qualified for this work" and instead "rushed" the process and awarded a nearly $800 million contract to another company in early April.
The lawsuit was filed April 25 in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.
"This flawed solicitation risks setting a dangerous precedent for current and future procurements to also be in violation of applicable law and regulations," the lawsuit states.
But a one-page judgment issued Tuesday, May 21, ruled in favor of the government and the company that was awarded the contract, Texas-based SLSCO Ltd. An opinion issued that day was sealed.
Court records indicate the case was terminated Tuesday.
Fisher asked for a court order preventing the Army Corps of Engineers from "permitting or directing performance" of the contract until the bid protest before the Government Accountability Office was completed.
That filing alleged the solicitation violated federal law's requirements for "full and open competition" on government contracts by giving preference to firms that had already been hired for border barrier projects, among other complaints. Fisher also protested over the selection of another company to build about 11 miles of "pedestrian wall replacement" along the border, but that was dismissed earlier this month, a GAO official said.
Fisher's president and CEO, Tommy Fisher, didn't return a message seeking comment, nor did the firm's attorney. A spokesman for the Army Corps of Engineers deferred to the Department of Justice.
The lawsuit was mentioned in a Washington Post story Thursday detailing President Donald Trump's support for Fisher Sand and Gravel as he pursues his signature campaign promise to clamp down on illegal immigration. The president has urged Corps leadership to award the company a border wall contract, the newspaper reported, because he believes they can do it at a faster pace and for less money.
Corps officials said Fisher's proposal didn't meet project requirements, the Post reported.
The company in 2017 finished a border wall prototype. Tommy Fisher was then the guest of then-Rep. Kevin Cramer at the president's 2018 State of the Union address. Cramer, a Republican, won a highly contested U.S. Senate race later that year.
In an interview with Forum News Service Friday, Cramer said he and Trump have been frustrated by the "bureaucracy" of the bidding process. The president asked Cramer to "go deep into the weeds" on border wall proposals and report back to him, the senator said.
Cramer said he hasn't pushed for Fisher to be hired, though he said he would welcome it. He said his support isn't influenced by Tommy Fisher's campaign contributions.
"I want Fisher to get every inch of that wall because they're a North Dakota company," Cramer said.