In this chaotic effort

Got a shortage of N95 masks? Then the thing to do is give a huge packet of money to a bankrupt company with no employees that has never made masks. Problem solved!

In this chaotic effort to obtain supplies, the Trump administration awarded a $55 million contract to Panthera Worldwide LLC, a company with no expertise in the world of medical equipment, for N95 masks, The Washington Post reported on Wednesday.

Panthera’s parent company filed for bankruptcy protection last fall, and one of its owners last year said it had had no employees since May 2018, The Post reported, citing sworn testimony. It’s no longer listed as an LLC in Virginia, where its main office is, after fees went unpaid, the newspaper said.

So, perfect company for the job. What a good thing the Trump admin was able to find it.

James V. Punelli, one of Panthera’s executives, told The Post that the company was working with military contacts to obtain the masks.

“We’ve done [Department of Defense] medical training over the years and through those contacts with that community were brought sources of supply in order to assist in the COVID-19 response,” Punelli said in a text message to The Post. “We made the connection with FEMA and offered these supplies to them.”

They have contacts. But surely the government also has contacts? Is it really worth 55 million bucks to have Panthera ask its contacts to send along some masks? Can’t the government do that itself without handing 55 million to an irrelevant intermediary? One that’s bankrupt and has no employees and is being sued?

The Post reported that the Federal Emergency Management Agency was paying Panthera about $5.50 per mask, decidedly more than what the government pays companies with an established background in producing medical supplies such as 3M, which charges about $0.63 per mask.


Chuck Hagel, a former defense secretary, told The Post something was “amiss” about this order. “This is not how the government procures training or any type of supplies,” he said. “You just wouldn’t do business with somebody like that.”

But her emails.

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