WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, new reports from ProPublica and the Wall Street Journal revealed deeply concerning details about the status of operations at Fillakit, a manufacturer that could receive more than $10 million from a contract with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to make materials for COVID-19 testing kits.
In the reports, former employees spoke of unsanitary, unsafe working conditions and vials meant to be sterile containing “debris and bugs” as they were packed to leave the facility. One worker called the facility’s materials “inferior and unusable.”
“It’s bad enough that the administration has failed to make COVID-19 tests widely accessible — now it’s using taxpayer money to buy faulty equipment from an unproven contractor with no background in medical supplies production. Yet again, the administration has made a bad deal that puts lives at risk,” said Kyle Herrig, Accountable.US president.
As revealed last week in a Tampa Bay Times report, based in part on research from Accountable.US, Fillakit is run by former telemarketer Paul Wexler — a man who has run afoul of government regulators in the past. Fillakit was reportedly registered as a company a mere six days before getting its multi-million dollar FEMA contract.
Fillakit isn’t the first unproven company to secure a contract with the Trump administration amid the COVID-19 crisis. BuzzFeed reported in late April that a silicon valley engineer who obtained a $69.1 million contract to produce nearly 1,500 ventilators after tweeting at President Trump completely failed to deliver as no ventilators ever actually arrived. The man reportedly has no background in medical device production.