To add insult to injury, the tiny Montana based company that controversially landed Puerto Rico’s biggest recovery contract is now threatening to abandon the job following criticism from the mayor of San Juan.
Whitefish Energy Holdings had only two full-time employees just a few weeks ago when Hurricane Maria hit the Caribbean island.
Yet somehow, someway, they managed to nail a $300 million dollar contract – the biggest among the reconstruction efforts – to help restore the power infrastructure of the Free Associated State.
The company is in part financed by HBC investments, a firm founded by businessman Joe Colonnetta who donated some $25,000 to Trump during the 2016 campaign.
Also, Whitefish Energy CEO Andy Techmanski has personal ties to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, and it has been reported that Zinke’s son worked a summer job at one of Techmanski’s construction sites.
Yeah, the same Ryan Zinke that recently made headlines for taking incredibly expensive charter flights on taxpayer money instead of hopping on a regular commercial flight.
Oh, might we add he’s also the guy that openly praised fracking as “proof that God’s got a good sense of humour and he loves us.”
Sure looks like that swamp is draining real good, doesn’t it?
Not surprisingly, the Whitefish contract is making many heads turn.
“I’m scratching my head wondering how it all adds up,” said Susan F. Tierney, a former senior official at the Energy Department and State Regulatory Agencies.
“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.”
Puerto Rico story has echoes of early Iraq occupation: key contracts given to politically connected firms, with disastrous results
— Paul Krugman (@paulkrugman) October 24, 2017
A member of the Puerto Rico House of Representatives, Luis Vega-Ramos, also expressed his outrage at the situation.
“Whitefish seems to be nothing more than a glorified middleman to get the real providers of the services, with which PREPA could have contracted directly,” said.
“It is a cosy sweetheart deal in which Whitefish gets a gratuity for subcontracting the actual providers.”
The company currently has around 300 people, mostly subcontractors, working on the island right now.
The mayor of San Juan, Carmen Yulín Cruz told media that the contract is “alarming”.
“The contract should be voided right away and a proper process which is clear, transparent, legal, moral and ethical should take place.”
She continued, “It seems like what the Puerto Rican people are going to be paying for, or the American people are going to be paying for, is an intermediary that doesn’t know what is at stake here and that really has to subcontract everything.
“What we need is somebody that can get the job done and that has the expertise to get the job done.”
Whitefish has responded on their Twitter account with a singular threat.
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 (@WhitefishEnergy) October 25, 2017
Mayor Cruz replied with a meme, which everyone knows is the best way to win a Twitter spat.
Again too good not to tweet! pic.twitter.com/xCUtau4gcJ
— Carmen Yulín Cruz (@CarmenYulinCruz) October 26, 2017