2-Employee Firm From Trump Interior Sec. Hometown ‘Wins’ $300M Contract To Restore Puerto Rico’s Power
“I’m scratching my head wondering how it all adds up.” Those were the words of Susan Tierney, a former senior official at the Energy Department after it was announced that a small Montana company with only two full-time employees was awarded a $300 million contract to help get the power back on in Puerto Rico.
The company, Whitefish Energy is located in Trump’s Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s hometown. Zinke and the owner are close friends, the Washington Post reports.
According to the Post, the two-employee company signed the contract — the largest yet issued to help restore Puerto Rico — with the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) to fix the island’s electrical infrastructure.
The company now has 280 workers on the island, the Post reported, a majority of whom are subcontractors.
Susan Tierney said it was “odd” that Whitefish Energy would be chosen. “The fact that there are so many utilities with experience in this and a huge track record of helping each other out, it is at least odd why the utility would go to Whitefish,” Tierney said.
“I’m scratching my head wondering how it all adds up.”
Whitefish Energy happened to be the first firm “available to arrive and they were the ones that first accepted terms and conditions for PREPA,” Ricardo Ramos, the executive director of PREPA, told reporters.
Whitefish Energy spokesman Chris Chiames told the newspaper that the company is taking “personal risks and business risks working in perilous physical and financial conditions.”
“So the carping by others is unfounded, and we stand by our work and our commitment to the people of Puerto Rico,” he said.
Zinke’s office said in an email to the Post that Zinke and Whitefish Energy’s chief executive know each other.
“Everybody knows everybody” in the town, Zinke’s office said, adding that Zinke wasn’t involved in the contract.
But some in the industry smell a scandal in the making.