Questions surround Trump's 1st border wall contract

A tiny Nebraska startup awarded the first border wall construction project under President Donald Trump is the offshoot of a construction firm that was sued repeatedly for failing to pay subcontractors and accused in a 2016 government audit of shady billing practices.

SWF Constructors, which lists just one employee in its Omaha office, won the $11 million federal contract in November as part of a project to replace a little more than 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) of a current fence with post-style barriers 30 feet (9.1 meters) high in Calexico, California. The project represents a sliver of the president's plan that was central to his presidential campaign promise for a wall at the border with Mexico.

It remains unclear why SWF was listed on the bid for the wall contract instead of Edgewood, New York-based Coastal Environmental Group, which online government documents list as its owner.

Thomas Anderson, an Omaha lawyer who initially represented a subcontractor that sued Coastal in 2011, said he wouldn't be surprised if it was an attempt to dodge scrutiny of past legal problems. He says such a practice is relatively common in construction projects.

"If you kick up a little dust on the trail, it makes the trail harder to follow," Anderson said.

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