Blackwater founder Prince weighing U.S. Senate run: New York Times

Erik Prince testifies before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on security contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan on Capitol Hill in Washington, October 2, 2007. REUTERS/Larry Downing

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Erik Prince, who founded a private military contractor that has faced lawsuits for shootings and other misconduct in Iraq, is considering challenging a Republican Senator from Wyoming in a primary next year, the New York Times reported on Sunday.

Steve Bannon, U.S. President Donald Trump’s former chief strategist, had urged Prince to run for the seat now held by John Barrasso, an ally of Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, as part of an effort to shake up Republican leadership, the paper said.

Prince, a former Navy SEAL and the brother of U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, founded the company formerly known as Blackwater. Some of its guards had been convicted of killing 14 unarmed Iraqi civilians at a Baghdad traffic circle in 2007, an incident that outraged Iraqis and inflamed anti-U.S. sentiment around the world.

Prince has told DeVos that he would like to run against Barrasso, a person with knowledge of the conversation told the Times, and he traveled this weekend to Wyoming to investigate how to attain residency.

Efforts by Reuters to reach Prince and DeVos for comment were unsuccessful.

North Carolina-based Blackwater was sold and renamed several times after the Baghdad incident. It is now called Academi and is based in northern Virginia.

Prince later co-founded FSG, a separate logistics, security and insurance provider. A company spokesman had no comment on the Times report.

Reporting by Lindsay Dunsmuir; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn