Back in 2008, state investigator Jenais Radabaugh thought it was "laughable" that a company called Grady Excavating was applying for certification as a woman-run, minority business firm, seeking a cut of lucrative state contracts. "It was clearly an attempt by a married couple trying to subvert the system," Radabaugh says. Now, $40 million in government contracts later, Grady Excavating has been kicked out of the state system - for the reasons that Radabaugh raised four years ago.
The turnabout comes as a result of an investigation by KING-TV, called "Fraud on the Job." In May, KING 5 Investigators reported that the original paperwork submitted to the state by Grady Excavating for certification as a minority-run business looked suspicious.
Applicant Kim Grady was listed as the owner in charge of it all: operations, bidding, and purchasing multi-million dollar trucks. Yet her resume featured no trucking or construction experience: She'd worked for Nordstrom, LA Sun and Ski Tours and Pacific Food Service.
Her husband Joe, however, had years of experience in the industry, as an engineer and construction project manager, KING says.
Radabaugh, who looked into the application as an investigator for the state Office of Minority and Women's Business Enterprises, told the station "I thought it was obvious that this person was starting a dump trucking business because her husband had expertise in contracting business in the state."
She recommended against approval, but, a supervisor allowed the company to be certified. In the four years since, Grady Excavating has been awarded $40 million in government contracts including work on the 520 bridge and the SR 99 tunnel in Seattle. That's more money in tax-funded contracts than almost every other state minority contractor, says KING.
This week, in the wake of the TV report, the state agency's new director, Chris Liu, announced that Kim Grady cannot be considered economically disadvantaged and does not meet a regulation that requires owners to "actually exercise control over the firm's operations, management, and policy."
Grady can appeal the decision to the U.S. Department of Transportation, the state says.