The Biden administration likes to claim that it is transparent with the American people but that simply isn’t the case, particularly concerning its border security and immigration enforcement policies.
Now the administration is facing a pair of lawsuits from a watchdog organization for failing to disclose requested documents about lucrative federal contracts with a purported non-profit group that provides housing for detained illegal migrants, the Washington Examiner reported.
That is important because a top official at the non-profit group, Family Endeavors Inc., is a former member of the Biden transition team and the contracts appear to have been awarded to Endeavors in a rather unusual fashion that bypassed the normally required contract bidding process.
At the heart of the two lawsuits that have been filed against the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is an effort to obtain full disclosure of how the contracts had been awarded and whether there was a “quid pro quo” between the Biden administration and Andrew Lorenzen-Strait, the former Biden transition official who is now the chief federal liaison for Endeavors.
The watchdog group that filed the lawsuits is the American Accountability Foundation and those legal filings only became necessary after both HHS and DHS have essentially ignored Freedom of Information Act requests that were filed in April 2021.
“Aside from the efforts at DHS and HHS to cover up the crisis at our southern border with this housing contract, they also displayed the worst type of government cronyism,” AAF founder Tom Jones said in a statement.
He added, “Instead of ignoring our FOIA requests, DHS and HHS need to come clean to the American people about the clear conflict of interest with this contract, and prioritize sound policy over political favors for their friends.”
No-bid contracts exposed last year
According to the Examiner, Endeavors was awarded at least two federal contracts totaling more than $600 million shortly after the Biden administration assumed control of the government — despite having never before been awarded a contract from either DHS or HHS or a federal contract worth much more than $1 million with any other federal agency.
Yet, in an April 2021 report, the Examiner revealed that DHS and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency gave Endeavors an $87 million contract to cover the provision of hotel rooms and beds for migrant families detained after crossing the southern border illegally in Arizona and Texas.
In a separate report less than a week later, the Examiner also reported on a $530 million contract awarded to Endeavors by HHS for the same general purpose — to provide housing and care for migrant children detained after illegally entering the United States.
Legitimate questions need to be answered
In both instances, it appears that the Biden administration bypassed or ignored the Federal Acquisition Regulation’s requirements of an open and competitive bidding process for federal contracts, and the timing of the contracts first awarded in March 2021 — about two months after Lorenzen-Strait left Biden’s team to join Endeavors — has raised some pertinent questions.
The Biden administration, far from being transparent, has on countless occasions been less than forthcoming with the American people on a variety of issues, and it is shame that lawsuits from watchdog groups are necessary to pry basic information that should have already been made public out of this reticent White House.