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SCANDAL BLOWS UP: Leaked Document Shows Whitefish Contract Bars Government From Auditing Deal


SCANDAL BLOWS UP: Leaked Document Shows Whitefish Contract Bars Government From Auditing Deal

In another extraordinary development surrounding the scandal-ridden Trump administration, leaked documents have revealed that the $300 million contract reached between the government and a small Montana energy company tied to President Donald Trump’s Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke prohibits the government from reviewing labor costs or profits related to the company’s relief efforts in Puerto Rico.

A copy of the deal obtained by reporter Ken Klippenstein shows that the government isn’t allowed to “audit or review the cost and profit elements” under the agreement, allowing the company greater discretion and secrecy for how it spends the $300 million to restore power to the island after two major hurricanes wiped its aging electrical grid.

As Political Dig reported last week, Whitefish signed the deal with the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA). The deal also prohibits the government from making “any claim against Contractor related to delayed completion of work.”

The company has been the target of heavy criticism over questions as to why the small company, which only had two full-time employees when the storm struck, was selected for such a lucrative government contract to help clean up the island.

Two House committees and a federal watchdog have all opened investigations into the deal. San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz has called for the deal to be voided and investigated after representatives for the company feuded with her on Twitter and asked her if she wanted them to stop working.

“We’ve got 44 linemen rebuilding power lines in your city & 40 more men just arrived. Do you want us to send them back or keep working?” Whitefish Energy tweeted to the mayor Wednesday.

“They are threatening not to do their job which frankly is quite irregular for a company hired to the work for the public sector,” she tweeted in response.

“The contract should be voided right away and a proper process which is clear, transparent, legal, moral and ethical should take place,” Cruz added in comments to Yahoo News.

Republicans on the House Natural Resources Committee have also raised questions about the scope of the deal.

“The size and terms of the contract, as well as the circumstances surrounding the contract’s formation, raise questions regarding PREPA’s standard contract awarding procedures,” Reps. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) and Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) wrote Thursday.

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