(Headline USA) House Republicans launched an investigation into the former Biden transition official who helped broker a deal between Immigration and Customs Enforcement and his nonprofit organization.
Andrew Lorenzen-Strait was hired by Endeavors just months after he left President Joe Biden’s transition team. Shortly after, Endeavors signed a multi-million dollar contract with ICE to provide housing for detained migrants along the southern border, even though Endeavors had no previous experience working on immigration affairs.
In a letter to acting ICE Director Tae Johnson, Republicans on the House Oversight and Reform Committee said the contract was suspect and accused the Biden administration of showing favoritism.
“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,” the letter states.
“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 investigation comes just weeks after the Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector General acknowledged in a report that ICE’s contract with Endeavors was problematic.
The agency should have sought multiple bids for the work, the watchdog said. Instead, ICE signed a “sole source” deal with Endeavors, which forced the government to pay for 1,200 hotel rooms up front, even if they were not used.
As a result, ICE was forced to pay Endeavors $17 million in taxpayer dollars for the hotel rooms between April and June of 2021, the report found.
“ICE’s sole source contract with Endeavors resulted in millions of dollars being spent on unused hotel space,” the inspector general said.
The report also alleged that Endeavors put “migrant families and the outside population at risk of contracting COVID-19” by refusing to follow testing procedures before transporting migrants to different housing situations.
“Further, Endeavors did not follow required ICE standards to ensure the proper care for housing migrant families while such families were residing in its facilities,” the report adds, claiming Endeavors failed to provide self-service snacks, staff storage of important documents like passports, and video cameras to record use-of-force incidents.