From Sean Cockerham in Anchorage –
Massachusetts Rep. Ed Markey is calling for a hearing to investigate Alaska Native Corporation federal contracting in the wake of a massive bribery and kickback scandal involving an executive at a subsidiary for the Eyak Corporation.
Markey, Democratic ranking member on the House Committee on Natural Resources, today wrote the committee chairman, Washington Republican Rep. Doc Hastings.
Markey wrote that the scam “raises questions about whether there are adequate controls in place to prevent fraud and abuse at ANC’s and protect U.S. taxpayers and Alaska Native shareholders. I ask that the Committee immediately schedule a hearing to investigate this matter,”
Hastings’ spokeswoman didn’t immediately return a message asking about the request.
The $20 million scheme allegedly involved corrupt Army Corps of Engineers officers working with an executive at EyakTek to inflate invoices and pocket kickbacks as part of EyakTek’s federal contract. EyakTek is owned by the Eyak Corp., the village corporation for Native shareholders in Cordova. Alaska Native corporations receive special federal contracting privileges.
Markey wrote he is “concerned that Eyaktek’s status as an ANC may have facilitated this scam.” He noted that the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act included corporate governance and disclosure requirements for Native corporations,
“An investigative hearing on this matter would give the committee an opportunity to investigate whether these requirements were observed at EyakTek, what internal controls the corporation has in place to protect against bribery or other malfeasance by company employees, and whether additional protections are needed,” Markey wrote.
The group Native 8(a) Works, set up by Native organizations to defend the contracting privileges, sent a statement on Tuesday in response to EyakTek's involvement.
"At a time when Native corporations' status as 8(a) contractors is constantly under attack, we hope that the alleged actions of one company will not contribute to further misconceptions about Native 8(a) contractors and the value they deliver to America taxpayers," the statement said. "The alleged wrongdoing by a few individuals is exactly that -- the actions of individuals..."
"8(a)" refers to the federal rule that designates 23 percent of government work for small and disadvantaged firms. Alaska Native firms get certified for minority business contracting under the rule.