McFeely blog: '60 Minutes' examines ND border wall builder, suggests Cramer provided sensitive material to aid Fisher Industries

News program capsulizes story about Dickinson's Fisher Industries

armstrong fisher.jpg
Michael Fisher, Tommy Fisher, U.S. Sen. Kevin Cramer and U.S. Rep. Kelly Armstrong pose on a piece of heavy equipment outside Fisher Industries in Dickinson, N.D., in this July 2018 photo posted to a Twitter account run by Armstrong. Michael Fisher was convicted of tax fraud in 2009 and a company spokesman said he is no longer affiliated with Fisher Sand & Gravel or any of its subsidiaries. The spokesman said Michael Fisher and other family members visited Fisher Industries after a parade to view the company's display for the border wall.

Award-winning television program "60 Minutes" took a look at a story this blog has followed for months: The saga of Dickinson, N.D., contractor Fisher Industries and its efforts to secure billions of dollars in government contracts. The story focused on Fisher's building of a border fence along the Rio Grande River near Mission, Texas.

Fisher Industries and CEO Tommy Fisher have secured about $2 billion in contracts to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, largely by pandering to President Donald Trump and constructing two prototype walls near Mission and Sunland Park, N.M.

It's a complicated tale we've chronicled on this blog. Fisher worked with a non-profit named We Build the Wall, whose top executives like Steve Bannon and Brian Kolfage were recently indicted on federal fraud charges.

Much of the "60 Minutes" piece was a rehash of earlier reporting, much of it done by the Texas Tribune and ProPublica, but it did not paint a positive picture of Fisher Industries, its CEO Tommy FIsher or North Dakota U.S. Sen. Kevin Cramer.


Cramer is known to have unapologetically lobbied Trump to give Fisher border wall contracts. There is an inference in the "60 Minutes" story that Cramer provided sensitive information to Fisher to help the company in its bids to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Reported "60 Minutes:"

Sources also told us that Republican Senator Kevin Cramer of North Dakota had been aggressively trying to steer contracts to Fisher Sand and Gravel. They say Senator Cramer demanded sensitive information from the Army Corps of Engineers about competing bids.

Bennie Thompson: "When some of those documents you request gives an individual a potential unfair advantage in the procurement process, then I think that has to be reviewed. We asked the Inspector General to look at it."

Senator Cramer says he was just exercising Congressional oversight and gave Fisher no information. The Department of Defense Inspector General's investigation is ongoing.

You can watch the entire "60 Minutes" story, and read the script, by clicking here:

Why a private section of the border wall is allegedly failing.



Opinion by Mike McFeely
Mike McFeely is a columnist for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead. He began working for The Forum in the 1980s while he was a student studying journalism at Minnesota State University Moorhead. He's been with The Forum full time since 1990, minus a six-year hiatus when he hosted a local radio talk-show.
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