US Government Intervenes in False Claims Lawsuit Against Fluor Companies
Texas-based Company Allegedly Used Federal Funds for Lobbying Activities
The government has intervened in a lawsuit against Fluor Hanford Inc. and its parent company, Fluor Corporation (collectively Fluor), in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington, the Justice Department announced today. Fluor Hanford, Inc. is a subsidiary of Fluor Corporation, a Texas-based corporation that provides a wide variety of services to government and private customers. The False Claims Act lawsuit was originally filed by whistleblower Loydene Rambo, a former employee of Fluor.
Between 1999 and 2008, Fluor had a prime contract with the Department of Energy (DOE) to provide a wide variety of security, maintenance and operational services at the DOE’s Hanford Nuclear Site in southeastern Washington State. As part of its contract, Fluor was responsible for managing and operating the Hazardous Materials Management and Emergency Response (HAMMER) Center, a federally-funded facility established to train Hanford site workers as well as first responders and law enforcement personnel.
The whistleblower complaint alleges that, as a condition of receiving its DOE contract, Fluor was required to certify that it would not use federal funds for lobbying activities. The complaint further alleges that between 2005 and 2008, Fluor ignored these restrictions and used DOE funding to lobby Congress and executive branch officials for more funding for HAMMER. The complaint alleges that Fluor, and two lobbying firms hired by Fluor and paid using DOE funds, Secure Horizons LLC and Congressional Strategies LLC, lobbied members of Congress and executive branch agencies to include additional funds for HAMMER in agency appropriations. The United States intervened in the lawsuit with respect to Fluor, but declined to intervene with respect to additional defendants, including Secure Horizons LLC and Congressional Strategies LLC.
“The taxpayer money Congress allocated for this program was for training federal emergency response personnel and first responders, not to lobby Congress and others for more funding,” said Stuart F. Delery, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division of the Department of Justice. “When public funds are misused, as alleged in this case, the Justice Department will work to restore them to the Treasury.”
“The allegations set forth in the whistleblower complaint are troubling and very serious,”
said Michael C. Ormsby, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington. “My Office will continue to work with the Justice Department to ensure a just resolution of these alleged violations of federal law.”
Ms. Rambo’s lawsuit was filed under the False Claims Act, which authorizes private parties to sue on behalf of the United States and share in any recovery. The act authorizes the United States to intervene in such a suit and take over the responsibility for litigating it. The United States has informed the court that it intends to file its own complaint in the action.
The case is being handled by the Civil Division of the Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Washington, with the assistance of the Department of Energy Office of Inspector General.
Ms. Rambo’s lawsuit is captioned U.S. ex rel. Rambo v. Fluor Hanford, et al., cv-11-5037. The claims asserted in this case are allegations only, and there has been no determination of liability.