Republican Rep. Jim Banks is demanding answers from the head of the Administration for Children and Families after revelations that a nearly $530 million contract was awarded to a Texas nonprofit to help manage the influx of migrant children at the U.S. southern border — after the organization hired a former Biden transition official.
Axios first reported the contract, which is the largest ever awarded to the nonprofit, Family Endeavors, from the Department of Health and Human Services. The nonprofit also received a grant from the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement worth $87 million.
Family Endeavors, according to the report, recently hired former Biden transition official Andrew Lorenzen-Strait to serve as senior director for Migrant Services and Federal Affairs. While working on the Biden transition team, Lorenzen-Strait reportedly vetted political appointees for HHS and worked on the DHS policy team.
Banks, R-Ind., in a letter obtained by Fox News directed to the acting assistant secretary of the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) within HHS, JooYuen Chang, questioned the timing of the grants and whether they were related to Lorenzen-Strait’s work.
“The two unprecedented and massive grants Family Endeavors received were approved by HHS and DHS—the two agencies Lorenzen-Strait oversaw while a member of the Biden transition team,” Banks wrote. “And both grants were no-bid contracts, meaning they were awarded directly to Family Endeavors bypassing the normal competitive process.”
Banks went on to call the grant “especially concerning” due to Lorenzen-Strait’s responsibilities on the transition team, and said it was “probable” that he “played some role” in Chang’s appointment.
Banks went on to accuse Chang of having “played some role in awarding Lorenzen-Strait’s firm about a half a billion dollars.”
“Some may view this as a conflict of interest,” Banks wrote.
Banks laid out a list of questions for Chang, including whether Lorenzen-Strait oversaw her vetting process as she was being considered as a political appointee for the Biden administration, whether she had personally met or corresponded with Lorenzen-Strait before April 2021, and whether ACF filled out a “Justification and Approval form” for the $530 million grant.
Banks went on to ask whether there were “any other political appointees involved in the grant process” and whether Chang was in contact with the White House regarding the decision.
Banks gave Chang a deadline of April 28 to respond to his questions.
The nonprofit’s website says Lorenzen-Strait “leads a nationwide team of dedicated professionals in providing critical social services to migrants, including unaccompanied children and families.”
A statement from the nonprofit in January said Lorenzen-Strait was tapped to be its senior director for Migrant Services & Federal Affairs. The nonprofit did not immediately respond to an after-hours email from Fox News seeking comment.
The Biden administration has blamed the surge in part on the Trump administration’s dismantling of legal pathways to asylum, while also characterizing it as a “challenge.”
Republicans have blamed the high number of migrants on Biden administration’s policies, such as its decision to roll back Trump-era policies like the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP).
Fox News’ Edmund DeMarche and Adam Shaw contributed to this report.