Tags: state | obama | pledge | checchi | contract | fox

State Dept. Official: Obama Violated Pledge

Sunday, 31 Jan 2010 08:50 PM

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The recent awarding of a lucrative federal contract to a company owned by a financial contributor to the Obama presidential campaign -- without competitive bidding -- "violated" President Obama's many campaign pledges to crack down on the practice, a top State Department official told Fox News.

The contract, worth more than $24.6 million, was awarded on Jan. 4 by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to Checchi and Company Consulting, a Washington, D.C.-based firm owned by economist and Democratic Party donor Vincent Checchi. The deal called for Checchi's firm to train lawyers and judges in Afghanistan and thereby strengthen the "rule of law" in the war-torn country.

"You make a valid point. If you want to say this violates the basis on which this administration came into office and campaigned, fair enough," Assistant Secretary of State P.J. Crowley told Fox. A Fox reporter reminded Crowley that Obama had made many pledges during the 2008 campaign to crack down on the use of no-bid contracts. The president signed a memorandum last March instructing the Office of Management and Budget to curb the practice.

Crowley confirmed that the contract has been "terminated" because the circumstances under which it was awarded “violated the Competition in Contracting Act." Crowley said the contract was actually a renewal of a $44 million contract first awarded to Checchi and Company in October 2004 by the Bush administration -- after a competitive bidding process -- and will now be put out for competitive bids.

The existence of the Checchi contract was first publicly reported by Fox News on Jan. 25.

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