FARGO — Tommy Fisher’s border wall will remain. It’s a victory for the North Dakota businessman and those who applauded his publicity stunt on the Texas-Mexico border.
But some experts say the terms of a legal settlement between Fisher Industries and the United States government are placing a burden on Fisher that he might not want.
The endless saga continues to never end.
First, the breaking news: The Texas Tribune and ProPublica reported that federal prosecutors and Fisher Industries, which is based in Dickinson, ND, have reached a settlement agreement regarding Fisher’s controversial private border wall on the Rio Grande. near Mission, Texas.
It ends 2.5 years of legal battles after the government sued Fisher for building a three-mile-long fence along the Rio Grande that opponents, including the National Butterfly Center, say violated a treaty. international because it was too close to the river. Critics also said the wall was so poorly constructed it threatened to fall over, posting photos on social media showing severe erosion after heavy rain during Hurricane Hanna.
Fisher and the fence garnered national attention because they were highlighted by then-President Donald Trump and national conservative media. “60 Minutes” did a segment on the wall. Fisher and the Wall were supported by We Build the Wall, a nonprofit that included right-wingers like Steve Bannon and Brian Kolfage. The latter pleaded guilty in April to federal charges of defrauding donors of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Fisher, who has himself drawn national attention for openly courting Trump in hopes of landing billion-dollar government contracts to build a border wall, is strongly backed by U.S. Senator Kevin Cramer and Rep. Kelly Armstrong of North Dakota. Both are Republicans.
The lawsuit was to have the wall removed, but the settlement says it can stay under conditions. The Texas Tribune and ProPublica reported that the settlement required the company to perform quarterly inspections, maintain an existing gate that allows floodwaters to be released, and maintain a $3 million insurance bond for 15 years (or until ownership transfers to the government), to cover all expenses should the fence fail.
Critics of the wall cited by the publications say the settlement gives Fisher far too much leeway to inspect the wall. Essentially, Fisher Industries will be allowed to police itself instead of having it done by a third party.
However, the former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Texas who filed the lawsuit believes the settlement could have lasting effects on the company.
“Looks like the builders of this thing are going to have to feed and care for this white elephant for a while and end up being much more expensive and painful to manage than they ever imagined,” Patrick told the Texas Tribune. and ProPublica.
We will know in time.
For now, it looks like Tommy Fisher’s coveted border wall has found a way to survive thanks to a government willing to step in to make this long and convoluted affair go away.