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OST officials awarded $6.6M contract to friends

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Senior Office of Special Trustee officials in Albuquerque, New Mexico, violated ethics rules in the awarding of a $6.6 million no-bid contract to an accounting firm run by their friends, U.S. News reports.

Deputy special trustee Donna Erwin and two of her top aides, brothers Doug and Jeff Lords, socialized frequently with executives at Chavarria, Dunne & Lamey. Along with a fourth official, they pressured lower level employees to award the multi-million contract to the firm, the Interior Department Inspector General said in a recent audit.

"In summary, the report presents information that establishes that the conduct of four OST officials ... created an appearance of preferential treatment," the audit, which has not been released to the public, stated.

According to the audit, Erwin and the Lords "socialized on numerous occasions" with Chavarria executives. "This included golfing at exclusive resorts together ... dining at upscale restaurants together, entertaining one another at their personal residences, and attending happy hours together on a regular basis," the investigation said.

Special Trustee Ross Swimmer, who works in Washington, D.C., said he ordered the four OST officials to undergo ethics training.

Get the Story:
Interior Report: Indian trust officials violated ethics rules in contract awards (US News and World Report 7/23)

Relevant Links:
Office of Special Trustee -
Chavarria, Dunne & Lamey -

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