Washington Post: Company with ties to Trump's brother given government contract
Posted October 26, 2019 2:55 p.m. EDT
CNN — A company with ties to President Donald Trump's brother was awarded a $33 million government contract earlier this year, and a rival bidder filed a complaint alleging potential favoritism in the bidding process, The Washington Post reported Saturday.
The government contract from the US Marshals Service went to the company CertiPath, which has been owned since 2013 by a firm with ties to Trump's younger brother, Robert Trump, the Post reports.
An anonymous rival bidder filed a complaint with the Justice Department's office of the inspector general claiming that CertiPath did not disclose "one of the President's closest living relatives stood to benefit financially from the transaction," according to a copy of the July 22 complaint letter obtained by the Post.
CertiPath, based in Reston, Virginia, specializes in digital security and verifying online identities, the Post reports, and the contract was to provide security for federal courthouses and cell blocks.
The complaint reads, according to the Post: "The circumstances of this contract award, and what appear to be CertiPath's efforts to obscure Mr. Robert Trump's financial interest in the company even as it trades on the Trump name, present the appearance of preferential treatment for those who are close to the President." The complaint was sent by the Washington law firm Venable on behalf of the client, the Post reports.
Venable lawyer Dismas N. Locaria, who signed the complaint letter, declined to disclose to the Post the name of his client. The Post left a phone message for Robert Trump through Trump Management that was not returned.
The president and founder of CertiPath, Jeff Nigriny, said in a statement to the Post that Robert Trump "is one investor in an entity which holds a minority interest in Certipath" and that "he is exclusively a passive investor, has no management role whatsoever, is not an officer or director, and his name has never been used or mentioned by CertiPath in any solicitation for a government contract, whether state or federal."
"Certipath has never used the Trump name in any way, and to do so would be completely inconsistent with our business practices and ethics," Nigriny added.
The contract has been awarded to CertiPath but so far no money has been paid out, the Post reports. Another company, NMR Consulting, also filed a protest against the bid with the Government Accountability Office on July 1, according to the newspaper. That protest led to a "stop work order" on the contract, Drew Wade, a spokesman for the US Marshals Service, told the Post.
"There's no money being spent with CertiPath until this issue is resolved," Wade told the Post.
Wade said the NMR complaint is about a separate issue and "has nothing to do with the president or his relationships," according to the Post. NMR did not respond to calls and emails from the Post seeking comment.
Wade told the Post the US Marshals Service had no knowledge of the allegations that a member of the President's family has a financial interest in CertiPath, and did not have knowledge of the complaint to the inspector general.
The inspector general has not initiated a review of the matter, the Post reports, citing a public listing of their reviews regarding the Marshals Service. A spokeswoman for the inspector general declined to comment further to the Post.