Want a mask contract or some ventilators? A White House connection helps

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Trump and his top aides have played favorites in awarding coronavirus contracts and allocating scarce resources.

In early March, Mike Bowen, the executive vice president of the medical mask manufacturer Prestige Ameritech, found the perfect way to drum up some federal business: He went on Steve Bannon’s podcast, which is highly popular at the White House. “If the government wants to throw some money at it, we can hire more people and build more machines,” Bowen said during an appearance on the “War Room” podcast co-hosted by Bannon, who was the chief executive officer of Donald Trump’s presidential 2016 campaign. “We’re kind of out there on our own, and we are doing everything that we can possibly do on our own.” A month later, at the explicit request of the White House, Prestige Ameritech had a $9.5 million contract with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. It then won another deal with the state of Texas and was given 50 National Guard members, deployed by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, to work shifts at its suburban Fort Worth manufacturing facility.