Kaul fights Trump use of emergency dollars to build border wall during pandemic

    President Donald J. Trump visits newly installed border wall along the U.S.-Mexico Border near Calexico CA in April 2019. Photo by Mani Albrecht U.S. Customs and Border Protection
    President Donald J. Trump visits newly installed border wall along the U.S.-Mexico Border near Calexico CA in April 2019. Photo by Mani Albrecht U.S. Customs and Border Protection

    Attorney General Josh Kaul moved forward on a lawsuit on Tuesday to stop $790 million that is allocated to National Guard units across the country to purchase equipment needed for responding to natural disasters and other emergencies, such as the current COVID-19 pandemic, from being reallocated by President Donald Trump to build a border wall — a project that continues to add miles of construction despite warnings during the pandemic.

    A coalition of eight attorneys general — including Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul — filed a partial summary judgment motion in a lawsuit to stop Trump from diverting $3.8 billion in taxpayer money to construct a border wall, which would siphon money from the National Guard and state manufacturers.

    Attorney General Josh Kaul
    Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul

    The coalition stated that in the current national emergency stopping “the Trump administration’s illegal actions to fund a border wall” is more important than ever. Their legal argument is based around the diversion of funds violating the Constitution’s separation of powers principles.

    “President Trump’s unconstitutional effort to pay for the border wall includes an attempt to siphon funds from the National Guard and from manufacturing work that would be done in Wisconsin,” said Kaul. “While this illegal diversion of billions of dollars to pay for the border wall would be a poor use of resources in normal circumstances, it’s particularly misguided now, when we need to be marshaling our resources to fight the coronavirus.”

    Wisconsin joined the lawsuit, authorized by Gov. Tony Evers, in early March before his emergency declaration for the pandemic. At the time, Evers said the diversion of funds “will neglect the needs of Wisconsin National Guard units and hurt the state’s economy.”

    Newsweek reported Monday that since the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus, the Trump administration has built dozens more miles of the wall, despite a petition supported by more than 100 groups demanding “the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Department of Defense, and Department of Justice to halt all border wall construction during the COVID-19 pandemic, as the health of workers and nearby residents could be put at risk. Disease specialists in Arizona are also warning that clusters of workers along the border could spread the virus around the country when they return to their families, according to the New York Times on Tuesday

    Two Wisconsin-based companies hit by the diversion, according to the Wisconsin Department of Justice, are:

    • Oshkosh Corporation, which has a $101 million contract for construction of Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Trucks.
    • Fairbanks Morse in Beloit, which was to produce six marine engines for $44 million dollars as a subcontractor  for the now defunded LHA-9 project. 

    Kaul joined AGs from California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico and Virginia in filing the motion.


    Melanie Conklin
    Melanie Conklin is proud to be a native of the state of Wisconsin, which gave humankind the typewriter, progressivism and deep-fried cheese curds. Her several decades in journalism include political beats and columns at Isthmus newspaper, the Wisconsin State Journal and other publications. When not an ink-stained wretch, she served time inside state, local and federal government in communications. She is excited to be back at the craft of journalism as Deputy Editor of the Wisconsin Examiner. It’s what she’s loved ever since getting her master’s degree in journalism from the UW-Madison. Her family includes one husband, two kids, four dogs and five (or more) chinchillas.