Democrats on a U.S. congressional committee have asked the president of a company that oversaw the maintenance of FEMA trailers issued to victims of Louisiana's historic floods in August whether he wants to change or withdraw testimony he made that absolved his company of knowledge that some of the manufactured homes had malfunctioning thermostats.
One of those malfunctioning thermostats is being blamed in the death of a blind military vet, a flood victim who was found dead inside one of the trailers in Baton Rouge.
The Democratic members of the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform asserted they have obtained documents that contradict statements David Boone made under oath when he claimed that he wasn't aware of any issues with the thermostats until after the death of Everett Wilson.
Congress has ordered a review of FEMA's manufactured housing unit program after a Baton Roug…
Boone is the president of Capital Services, formerly called Chicago Bridge & Iron Federal Services. The company was sold Friday to private equity firm Veritas Capital.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency contracted with Capital Services to haul, install and maintain the manufactured housing units issued to residents displaced after the devastating floods.
Liza Kelso, the company's spokeswoman, acknowledged receipt of the letter and said they are reviewing the matter and will provide an appropriate response to committee members.
"However, we strongly disagree with any suggestion that false testimony was proffered by Mr. Boone during that hearing," Kelso said in an email Friday. "Various FEMA officials continue to pay compliments to the Capital Services team for the outstanding work in helping the Baton Rouge community recovery from this disaster."
Wilson, an 84-year-old blind U.S. Air Force veteran, was found on Oct. 25 unresponsive in a bed inside the trailer provided to him by FEMA after the August floods. He died from accidental hyperthermia, or overheating.
The temperature inside the mobile home at the time of his death registered at 124.4 degrees fahrenheit, and air coming out of the vents of the trailer's heating and air unit measured as high as 137.9 degrees, officials said previously.
Wilson's caretaker had made calls to authorities to fix the unit's heating and cooling system.
Boone claimed his company fully complied with all its contracted responsibilities from FEMA during an Oversight Committee hearing April 5.
The letter to Boone rehashes a portion of his testimony in which Boone claimed the company had only received "positive comments and glowing accolades" from FEMA about their performance under the contract.
"These claims are overwhelmingly contradicted by numerous documents obtained by the Committee," the letter states. "These documents leave no doubt that your company received significant criticism from FEMA for failing to meet its contractual maintenance obligations and to properly staff and run the maintenance hotline — the lifeline that victims relied on to report problems with their housing units."
The committee's Democrats also claims they obtained documents showing that Capital Services knew from August 2016 that multiple thermostats were malfunctioning in the same manner as Wilson's was in his housing unit.
The letter says members of the committee gave Boone multiple opportunities to revise or retract his statements during the April hearing since some of the documents were obtained prior to his testimony.
"Should you decline to take advantage of this opportunity, we may consider alternative measures," the letter states. "Testifying before Congress is a serious endeavor, and the Committee relies on witnesses to be truthful at all times to assist our oversight efforts and ensure that the American people are well-served."