A North Carolina congressman is calling for a probe into a potential $418 million contract between Kenya and a major U.S. defense contractor announced on President Obama's last day in office -- a deal the lawmaker claims reeks of cronyism.
Republican Rep. Ted Budd wants the Government Accountability Office to investigate a deal between the African nation and New York-based L3 Technologies for the sale of 12 weaponized border patrol planes. He said he wants to know why a veteran-owned small company in North Carolina – which specializes in making such planes – was not considered as the manufacturer.
IOMAX USA Inc., based in Mooresville and founded by a U.S. Army veteran, offered to build Kenya the weaponized planes for roughly $281 million – far cheaper than what its competitor, L3, is selling them for.
"Something smells wrong here," Budd told Fox News. "The U.S. Air Force bypassed IOMAX, which has 50 of these planes already in service in the Middle East."
"They were given a raw deal," Budd said of Kenya, which had requested from the U.S. 12 weaponized planes in its fight against terrorist group Al-Shabaab near its northern border.
"We want to treat our allies like Kenya fairly," he said. "And we want to know why IOMAX was not considered."
A State Department spokesman did not respond to a request for comment about the deal.
A source with knowledge of the negotiations told Fox News the program was in development with the State Department for at least a year and its announcement on Obama's last day in office was "pure coincidence."
L3, meanwhile, strongly dismissed any claim of favoritism in its deal with Kenya -- which was approved by the State Department, not the White House -- and pushed back on reports it has never built such aircraft.
"Any allegations questioning L3’s experience producing this equipment or the 'fairness' of the process are misinformed or being intentionally perpetuated for competitive reasons," the company said in a statement to Fox News.
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