WASHINGTON — The consulting firm where the wife of acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf is an executive has been awarded more than $6 million in contracts from the Department of Homeland Security since September 2018, according to records on the federal government website USA Spending.
Wolf became chief of staff at the Transportation Security Administration, a DHS agency, in 2017 and chief of staff to Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen in 2018. He took over as acting secretary in November and has been nominated to become secretary. His confirmation hearing before the Senate is scheduled for 10 a.m. Wednesday,
Wolf’s wife, Hope Wolf, is vice president of professional staff operations at Berkeley Research Group, a consulting firm. Although the company has a long history of federal contracts, it did not do work for DHS until after Wolf became the TSA’s chief of staff in 2017.
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A DHS spokesperson said Wolf was not aware of the contracts until he was contacted by the media.
“At no time in any of his positions since joining DHS has Acting Secretary Wolf been involved in awarding any contracts,” the spokesperson said. “Even if he were involved with the procurement process for this particular contract, which he was not, he would have had to recuse himself due to even the appearance of impropriety.”
Kyle Herrig, founder and president of Accountable.US, a left-leaning watchdog group, said the $6 million in contracts may be a conflict of interest.
Herrig also noted that the largest asset listed on Wolf’s federal financial disclosure form is his wife’s $1.1 million retirement account at Berkeley Research Group.
“After Mr. Wolf joined DHS, it began pumping millions of dollars into his wife’s firm, which also happens to be his largest financial asset,” Herrig said. “The arrangement is highly problematic and warrants congressional scrutiny.”
Berkeley Research Group declined to comment.
According to USA Spending, Berkeley Research Group’s contracts with DHS are for “Information Technology Software,” but it is not known what specific software was provided or to what component of DHS.
During his confirmation hearing, Wolf is likely to be asked about his role in the Trump administration’s zero tolerance policy, which separated migrant parents and children in 2018; sending federal agents to protests in Portland, Oregon; and a whistleblower’s complaint that DHS intentionally downplayed Russia’s interference in the coming presidential election.
Julia Ainsley is a correspondent covering the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice for the NBC News Investigative Unit.