Firm Blames Former Trump Nominee For Losing Big Puerto Rico Deal

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Chris White Tech Reporter
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A multinational engineering firm that lost a Puerto Rico hurricane recovery contract argues a former President Donald Trump nominee’s company was inappropriately awarded the deal.

AECOM is challenging the island’s decision last year to give the $133 million contract to Adjusters International, a disaster recovery firm headed by Daniel Craig, who withdrew his nomination to become a top FEMA official after reports questioned his spotty ethics issues.

Adjusters International failed to meet the requirements of the bid proposal and should have been disqualified, according to a Dec. 28 motion AECOM filed with the Puerto Rico housing department. Craig’s company bid $133 to manage Puerto Rico’s recovery effort, while AECOM pledged $154 million to help repair hurricane-ravaged homes.

Giving the contract to Adjusters International violated “clearly applicable procurement statutes and regulations,” AECOM noted, adding: “[W]e strongly believe that our proposal represents the best value and that we should be awarded the contract.”

Adjusters International denies the allegations. The firm offered the best value “at the lowest cost for taxpayers,” and met all the financial requirements, Chad Kolton, a spokesman for Adjusters International, told Bloomberg reporters.

“AECOM is putting its own interests ahead of the needs of Puerto Ricans as it has with so many other communities where it has engaged in lengthy protests whenever contracts are awarded to another bidder,” Kolton said.

Craig was forced to remove himself from consideration for FEMA’s deputy administer after reports last year from NBC showed he underwent ethics probes during his time former President George W. Bush’s administration. Investigators concluded in 2011 there was insufficient evidence to prove he violated conflict-of-interest laws.

Puerto Rico’s housing department defended the decision. “Both companies were technically capable to perform the services, but Adjusters International’s proposal represents a savings of $21 million in federal funds,” spokeswoman Leticia Jover told reporters.

The island’s officials have struggled in the past with government contracts related to Hurricane Maria, that slammed Puerto Rico in September. Officials were forced to cancel a $300 million contract earlier this year with Whitefish Energy, a small utility company with connections to Interior Department chief Ryan Zinke.

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