Weeks after announcing its filing, as of this publication, Attorney General Eric Holder’s Department of Justice has not officially served The Gallup Organization with a lawsuit alleging it defrauded the federal government.
“We have not been served with the complaint,” a senior Gallup official told The Daily Caller. “I think they are drafting an amended complaint, but we cannot file an answer or motion to dismiss until we’ve been officially served. We obviously have a copy that has been distributed online, but until it is served, it is not official.”
In Aug. 22 stories, the Associated Press’ Pete Yost and NBC News’ Michael Isikoff, among other media figures, quoted from the allegations made in the DOJ lawsuit against Gallup. The lawsuit is available online, but the allegations can’t be formally responded to by Gallup until DOJ serves it to the organization.
DOJ has joined allegations by Michael Lindley, a former Gallup employee who claims the company violated the False Claims Act by over-charging the federal government for its services. Holder’s DOJ signed onto a suit Lindley – who left Gallup on July 24, 2009 after having worked there since Feb. 25, 2008, a senior Gallup official told TheDC – filed back in 2009. Lindley is alleging, according to those press accounts and the publicly available complaint, that Gallup filed false claims with the federal government on contracts it had with the State Department, U.S. Mint and other federal agencies.
The publicly available complaint shows the DOJ is relying solely on the allegations Lindley is making to back its claims.
Despite not even having served the complaint to Gallup, Stuart Delery, the DOJ’s Civil Division’s acting assistant attorney general, said in a statement that “[c]ontractors must understand that it is unlawful to use inflated estimates to obtain higher contract prices. The decision to join this civil lawsuit underscores the commitment of the Department of Justice to recover federal funds that are unlawfully claimed.”
Ron Machen, the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia – who was also ordered by Holder’s DOJ not to enforce the bipartisan House resolution finding the attorney general in criminal contempt of Congress – praised the DOJ’s move against Gallup. “Contractors who do business with the federal government must honor their obligations to provide honest services and products,” Machen said. “Working with relators and federal investigators, we will do all that we can to act against those who illegitimately bill the American taxpayers.”
The senior Gallup official speculated that Holder’s DOJ may be aware that serving the complaint before November’s election would appear politically charged, particularly in light of internal Gallup emails which show senior officials concerned about intimidation attempts by Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod.
“They have 120 days to serve a complaint on us — so they might just hold off on service until the election passes,” the senior Gallup official said. “That way they prevent us from officially responding to their allegations, which might be damaging to the campaign.”
Gallup can’t ask a judge to dismiss the case until DOJ serves the company.
Holder spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler did not respond when asked by TheDC why the Justice Department has not yet served the complaint to Gallup.