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U.S. Strong Arms Mexican Government on Water Project: Political Influence Behind $600 Million No-Bid Contract

December 21, 2005 


A "sensitive but unclassified" letter and other documents show that the U.S. government has shut Mexico out of several important phases of decision-making on a $600 million waste water treatment project to be built near Tijuana, despite Mexico's protests.

In a letter sent yesterday, the Project On Government Oversight notes that a decision by the US section of the International Boundary Water Commission (IBWC), a component of the State Department, to award the contract on a sole-source basis, without competition, skirts U.S. contracting regulations and may also violate Mexican contracting law.

The contract has been inappropriately steered to a major company because of its strong political ties. POGO notes that Congress steered the contract to the Bajagua Project LLC, drafting language that ensures only one company can land the contract. Then-Representative Randy "Duke" Cunningham, and Representatives Duncan Hunter and Bob Filner are among the members of Congress who have promoted the project.  Filner, Hunter and others have received thousands in campaign contributions from Bajagua principals, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

POGO's letter can be viewed here.

Founded in 1981, the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) is a nonpartisan independent watchdog that champions good government reforms. POGO's investigations into corruption, misconduct, and conflicts of interest achieve a more effective, accountable, open, and ethical federal government.

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