The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Yetta Stein, Communications Associate

Western Values Project

(406) 529-1682

Trump's Border Wall Construction Helps Cronies, Hurts Public Lands and Native American Cultural Resources

Public lands nonprofit reports found that Trump’s allies stand to profit from controversial wall.


Today, the House Committee on Natural Resources' Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples of the United States is holding an oversight hearing on President Trump's border wall construction, which is destroying Native American sacred sites.

Western Values Project (WVP) -- an Accountable.US project based in Montana, defending America's public lands -- recently released a series of reports, finding that due to the administration's corruption, Trump administration allies stand to benefit from construction of the controversial border wall, at the expense of Native American cultural resources and public lands.

"Trump is demolishing sacred Native American cultural sites and public lands to build his vanity border wall, which also just so happens to be making his cronies rich in the process," said Jayson O'Neill, Western Values Project Deputy Director. "Today's hearing is a first step in holding Trump and his special interest cronies accountable for their rampant corruption and unchecked destruction of our cultural resources and public lands."

The reports, released as part of a series in how Trump administration corruption is hurting Western States, found that:

  • At least two Trump appointees are tied to companies that could profit from the construction of the border wall. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao was a Director at Vulcan Materials, a concrete company "poised to profit from the Trump border wall," from 2015 to 2017. Chao failed to divest her interest in Vulcan in 2018, a violation of the ethics agreement she signed when she joined the Trump administration. Additionally Thomas Carter, a U.S. Representative with the Department of State and a former member of Trump's Department of Defense transition team, previously "served as Elbit Systems of America's principal contact in Washington, DC for overall interface with the US government." The U.S. Customs and Border Protection is currently paying Elbit Systems, "Israel's largest military company," $26 million to build ten 160-foot surveillance towers on the Tohono O'odham Nation's reservation.
  • Coal company GCC Energy got unusually quick approval to mine 2,462 acres of federal coal deposits in southwestern Colorado after it promised to support the construction of President Trump's controversial border wall. It employs a lobbying firm with close ties to the Trump family and administration.
  • Two construction companies that have donated heavily to the President's campaign stand to gain from the construction of his controversial border wall. SLSCO stands to make $20 million from the contracts it has been awarded to build the wall. Its founders gave big to the Republican Party during the 2018 election cycle. Barnard Construction Co. Inc. was awarded a $187 million contract for border wall work in Yuma, Arizona. Its founder also gave a large amount of money to the Republican Party during the last elections.

In the last two months, WVP has released reports on how Trump administration corruption is hurting Western States, including Arizona, Colorado, Montana, and New Mexico.

Western Values Project brings accountability to the national conversation about Western public lands and national parks conservation - a space too often dominated by industry lobbyists and their allies in government.