WASHINGTON — The former company of U.S. Treasurer Catalina Vasquez Villalpando, who is at the center of an FBI influence-peddling probe, received $68.6 million in non-competitive federal contracts under a program for minority businesses, according to government data released Monday.
The company, Communications International Inc., was awarded 56 telecommunications contracts under the program from 1983 to 1992, the Small Business Administration data show. The contracts are for work performed for various government agencies at military bases, veterans' hospitals and other facilities around the country.
The $68.6 million includes seven contracts, worth $8 million, that Communications International received before August, 1985, when Villalpando joined the company.
There was no indication that any of the SBA contracts figure in the current investigation, nor was there any indication that Villalpando had worked on them.
Villalpando, 52, a longtime Republican Party worker, worked in the Ronald Reagan White House from 1981 to 1985, when she joined the telecommunications company as a partner and senior vice president. She resigned from--but kept her stock in--the company in 1989, when she became U.S. treasurer in the Bush Administration.
Villalpando was put on administrative leave last Thursday at her request, after FBI agents raided her Washington apartment and several other locations. At issue is whether she took payoffs--including travel, lodging and other benefits--from Communications International.
It is a misdemeanor for a senior federal official to accept compensation or benefits from a former employer while working for the government.
Communications International participates in the Small Business Administration's contract set-aside program for businesses owned by minorities. Under the program, for which the SBA provides technical assistance, the decision to award a contract is not based on competitive bids but is made by the government agency that needs the work done.