Company Run By WH ‘Volunteer’ With No Experience Won $2.4M Federal Contract
A self-described White House volunteer’s company received $2.4 million in its first ever federal contract to supply the Bureau of Prisons with surgical gowns, according to ProPublica.
- BlackPoint Distribution Company LLC was formed in August 2019 in Indiana by Mathew J. Konkler, who formerly worked in the Department of Defense under the George W. Bush administration.
- Though Konkler is not mentioned on the BlackPoint Distribution’s website, he is described on the website of another Indiana firm, BlackPoint Creative LLC, where Konkler serves as managing partner:
“Since 2018, Mr. Konkler has also served as a volunteer at the White House on the staff of the Vice President, Michael R. Pence.”
- A spokesperson for the Vice President renounced Konkler’s role in Mr. Pence’s staff:
“Mr. Konkler is not nor ever has been a member of Vice President Pence’s staff,” said Devin O’Malley in an email. “Mr. Konkler has previously helped in a volunteer capacity doing advance on trips, but has not done so since June 2019. No one in the Office of the Vice President was aware of or had any role in Mr. Konkler receiving this contract.”
Government ethics experts have confirmed that conflict of interest rules also apply to volunteers, depending on the work being done.
- The contract granted to BlackPoint Distribution was awarded under urgent circumstances as the federal government scrambled to deal with the coronavirus pandemic. The Bureau of Prisons did not put out a request for other proposals because the pandemic “resulted in the need to limit competition due to compelling urgency,” according to Jake Long, a spokesman for the Bureau.
- According to ProPublica, “BlackPoint Distribution is one of more than 445 first-time federal contractors awarded contracts during the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.”