RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH, MICHAEL MARTZ
irginia’s congressional delegation has called for an investigation of the federal government’s decision to build a new FBI headquarters in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C., instead of a site in Northern Virginia.
The General Services Administration, which manages federally owned property, selected a proposed site next to a Washington Metro station in Greenbelt, Maryland, last week, overriding a unanimous recommendation by a three-member panel to build the $4.1 billion project on federally owned property in Springfield.
Both Virginia senators — Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, Democrats and former governors — joined with nine of Virginia’s 11 congressional representatives in asking Robert Erickson, acting inspector general of the GSA, to investigate the site selection process and allegations of a conflict of interest in the final decision. Warner and Kaine called for an investigation last week and indicated a formal request would be coming from Virginia.
“There is overwhelming evidence suggesting that the General Services Administration (GSA) administered a site selection process fouled by political considerations and alleged impropriety — one that was repeatedly curated to arrive at a predetermined outcome,” the delegation said in the letter.
Virginia leaders cited the concerns raised by FBI Director Christopher Wray, who objected to the process used to select the Greenbelt site.
Wray, in a candid message to FBI employees the morning after the decision, noted that a panel of two veteran GSA employees and one FBI employee had unanimously recommended the Springfield site in Fairfax County. However, he said a GSA administrator, described as “a political appointee,” overrode the panel recommendation to select the Greenbelt site, owned by the Metro system, the administrator’s previous employer.
“Almost immediately after directing the final site selection to Greenbelt, the political appointee promptly left the federal government, implicating Congress’s ability to engage with this individual in an oversight capacity,” the Virginia delegation said in its letter. “In defending the indefensible, GSA has decided to proceed with the selection of Greenbelt over the objections of its client agency, the FBI.”
“These facts, when taken together, paint an ugly picture of a fatally flawed procurement that demands further investigation,” the letter states.
GSA Director Robin Carnahan strongly defended the site selection process in a lengthy congressional oversight hearing Tuesday, at which Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-11th, explicitly asked for an investigation. Maryland officials also have pushed back hard against the accusation by Wray and Virginia leaders.
“I am disappointed that Director Wray and my colleagues in the Virginia Delegation would call into question the integrity of this process simply because they preferred a different outcome,” former House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said in a statement last week.
In addition to Warner, Kaine and Connolly, the Virginia representatives signing the letter are: Reps. Bobby Scott, D-3rd, Rob Wittman, R-1st, Don Beyer, D-8th, Abigail Spanberger, D-7th, Jennifer Wexton, D-10th, Jennifer McClellan, D-4th, Jen Kiggans, R-2nd, and Morgan Griffith, R-9th.
Reps. Bob Good, R-5th, and Ben Cline, R-6th, are the only members of the delegation who did not sign the letter.
Good, Cline and Griffith voted last week against appropriating money for the FBI headquarters, which will employ about 7,500 people.
Good, in a social media post last week, stated his objections to the project, which stem in part from opposition among conservative Republicans to the FBI investigations of former President Donald Trump.
“We ought not build a new FBI building, borrowing & spending taxpayer money for a multibillion dollar facility larger than the Pentagon,” he said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter. “Instead, we ought to be SCRUTINIZING the money spent by a compromised FBI that targets conservatives, parents, & faith groups.”