Liberty University scrutinized over fuel contract with Pentagon

A company owned by Liberty University has a contract with the Pentagon to provide jet fuel.

The contract was scrutinized on Thursday after The Daily Beast reported that it was signed shortly after President TrumpDonald John TrumpGOP senator introduces bill to hold online platforms liable for political bias Rubio responds to journalist who called it 'strange' to see him at Trump rally Rubio responds to journalist who called it 'strange' to see him at Trump rally MORE's inauguration. Trump has close ties to the university's president and delivered a commencement speech there in 2017. 

The Defense Department signed a contract to buy jet fuel from Freedom Aviation, which is wholly owned by the university, in May 2017, according to the publication, and has since bought more than $400,000 worth of fuel from the company.

In a statement, Freedom Aviation President Andrew Wallace told The Hill that the Daily Beast's story was "misleading."

"The contract to provide the U.S. Department of Defense with fuel at the Lynchburg Regional Airport has been in place for over 20 years.The term of the contract signed in June 2017 began in November of 2016 and was merely a renewal of the pre-existing contract," Wallace said. "Since 2000, the highest volume of jet fuel delivered to the Defense Department under this jet fuel contract in any given year was during the Obama administration."

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Freedom Aviation owns six planes, which it maintains at the university’s Lynchburg, Va., flight school. It provides both charter flights and private aircraft used by the university’s president, Jerry Falwell Jr.

The Trump campaign reportedly paid the company more than $19,000 in air travel expenses in 2016 after Falwell endorsed Trump. It is not clear what the expense was for, although Trump spoke at the university the week before the endorsement. 

The value of the contract is $889,087. Its last date to order is listed as March 30, 2021.

Falwell is a major political supporter of Trump and has reportedly axed student newspaper articles critical of the president. In October he called for conservatives and Christians to “stop electing nice guys,” saying the country instead needs “street fighters” like Trump at every level of government.

-Updated 6:46 p.m.