At a House Oversight Committee briefing on the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus, Rep. Gerry Connolly asked Department of Health and Human Services Principal Deputy Inspector General Christi Grimm if she will be looking into a report that a former White House aide, Zach Fuentes, won a contract to provide respirator masks to the Navajo Nation only 11 days after his company was formed.
GERRY CONNOLLY: On Friday, it was reported that former White House deputy chief of staff Zach Fuentes won, on a noncompetitive basis, a $3 million contract to provide respirator masks to the Navajo Nation hospitals in New Mexico days after he registered his company. That is to say 11 days after he created his company. They had no prior experience in providing any kind of medical equipment to anybody.
And apparently there are problems with the suitability of the masks in what is a devastated community, the Native American reservation community in this particular case, the Navajo Nation. Is your office going to be looking into this no-bid contract and how it came about to be awarded?
CHRISTI GRIMM: Thank you for that question. Whenever we are made aware of potential improprieties, we would look into that. I cannot confirm the existence of an investigation. We do have work as part of the 14 jobs that I mentioned earlier looking at the assistant secretary for preparedness and response operation of the strategic national stockpile for COVID.
GERRY CONNOLLY: Yes, but we talked about waste, fraud, and abuse.
CHRISTI GRIMM: Yes.
GERRY CONNOLLY: Here is a prime candidate. Don't want to prejudge, but the suspiciousness about awarding a contract to somebody that has no experience, who formed his company 11 days before the award of the contract, has provided unsuitable equipment, reportedly, to just a devastated community, the Navajo Nation, it seems to me a prime candidate for your office to look at. And if you need it, certainly I, and I assume, the chairwoman would be glad to write you a letter asking for such an investigation.
CHRISTI GRIMM: Let my group be in contacts with you after this [INAUDIBLE]--
GERRY CONNOLLY: OK.
CHRISTI GRIMM: --some additional information from you, and we will take a look at that issue.