McCarthy’s brother-in-law of House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), William Wages, is the owner of Vortex Construction, which has landed a series of prime contracts at the Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake in McCarthy’s Bakersfield-based district in California, and the Naval Air Station Lemoore in nearby Kings County.
It appears that the contracts were secured through a federal program designed to help disadvantaged minorities. McCarthy’s mother-in-law co-owns the company, and several other family members are employed there.
According to The LA Times,“Vortex faced no competitive bids for most of the contracts because the Small Business Administration accepted Wages’ claim in 1998 that he is a Cherokee Indian. Under the SBA program, his company became eligible for federal contracts set aside for economically and socially disadvantaged members of minority groups, a boon to its business.”
“Wages says he is one-eighth Cherokee. An examination of government and tribal records by The Times and a leading Cherokee genealogist casts doubt on that claim, however. He is a member of a group called the Northern Cherokee Nation, which has no federal or state recognition as a legitimate tribe. It is considered a fraud by leaders of tribes that have federal recognition.”
Ethics experts are calling for the Office of Congressional Ethics to investigate whether McCarthy may have used his influence to help his family win the contracts and to look into whether he was aware of his brother-in-law’s participation in the minority contracting program.
“There is a direct and symbiotic connection between who McCarthy is and what he does and what his brother-in-law does,” said Loyola Law School professor Jessica Levinson, a former member of the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission. She said Wages’ work on federal contracts important to McCarthy’s in-laws and his district “should never have happened at all.”