FIRST ON FOX: The House Oversight Committee is investigating a "no-bid" Department of Homeland Security contract of up to $3 million awarded to a private law firm to aid Homeland Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas with potential impeachment proceedings — with Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer warning that such contracts put taxpayer money at "severe risk of waste and abuse."
"The Biden Administration’s self-inflicted border crisis has cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars and the American people are demanding accountability. Not only have the Biden Administration’s policies exacerbated the border crisis, but it also appears the Administration is exploiting the situation to reward its political allies and cover up Secretary Mayorkas’ disastrous decisions," Rep. Comer, R-Ky., said in a statement to Fox News Digital.
Comer has written to Mayorkas calling for information about a potential $1.5 million contract with Debevoise & Plimpton on Jan. 26 that will disburse cash based on their work. Government records show that the award runs until early January 2025 and could reach up to $3 million.
In the letter, Comer says that the contract is a no-bid, sole source contract, meaning it was awarded directly rather than through a competitive bidding process. Such an award is allowed only if due to an "unusual or compelling urgency."
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"DHS justified its decision not to use fair and open competition in procuring legal services by citing ‘unusual and compelling urgency,’" Comer wrote. "We are concerned the alleged "unusual and compelling urgency" justification is to avoid congressional scrutiny and oversight."
DHS tapped the New York-based law firm to "help ensure the department's vital mission is not interrupted by the unprecedented, unjustified and partisan impeachment efforts by some members of Congress, who have already taken steps to initiate proceedings," a DHS spokesperson told Fox News Digital earlier this month.
Republicans, including House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, have raised the possibility of impeaching the secretary over his handling of the ongoing crisis at the southern border. Multiple members have also introduced articles of impeachment against him.
"DHS will continue prioritizing its work to protect our country from terrorism, respond to natural disasters, and secure our borders while responding appropriately to the over 90 Congressional committees and subcommittees that have oversight of DHS," the spokesperson continued.
Fox News Digital reported earlier this month that the firm’s employees give overwhelmingly to Democratic causes, including President Biden's past candidacy. During the 2022 election cycle, individuals at the firm donated $289,000 of their nearly $310,000 in political contributions — or 95 percent — to liberal campaigns and committees, according to data compiled by OpenSecrets. David O'Neil, a Debevoise & Plimpton partner, will lead Mayorkas' defense team if needed, Law.com reported. O'Neil previously aided House Democrats in their impeachment efforts against former President Donald Trump.
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Republicans on the committee have previously expressed concern about the Biden administration’s use of no-bid contracts. Last year, when in the minority, Comer wrote to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) about an $87 million contract with a company to house migrants crossing the border.
The contract was particularly controversial as the company had ties to a Biden transition adviser. A DHS Office of Inspector General reviewed the contract and found that ICE was not justified in using a no-bid contract and that much of the space was left unused as the contract required ICE to pay for up to 1,239 beds no matter how many were used. ICE disagreed with that report.
In the statement to Fox Digital on Wednesday, Comer said the use of no-bid contracts was becoming a pattern for DHS.
"DHS has a clear pattern of awarding sole source, no-bid contracts worth millions of dollars and this habit is putting taxpayer funds at severe risk of waste and abuse. DHS leadership has failed to adequately justify the department’s decision to bypass normal contract competition and seems to be prioritizing political expedience," he said.
"As Chairman, I made it my mission to protect taxpayer dollars from waste, fraud, and abuse. Oversight Republicans fully expect DHS to provide the Committee all information related to these no-bid contracts."
The letter requests a copy of the contract, as well as documents and communications related to the contract and deliberations over the award of the contract — including legal analysis and any approval documents.