SAN JUAN (CBSMiami) – Five weeks after Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico, three-quarters of the island remain without power.
Now questions are being raised concerning the two-person energy company that was awarded a $300 million, no-bid contract to help restore electricity. San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz thinks the deal with Whitefish Energy should be voided.
Whitefish is just two years old, has just two full-time employees, and a handful of ties to the Trump administration. Cruz described the company as “inadequate” and said the contract lacks “due diligence.”
Whitefish took to Twitter to insist that her comments were “misplaced.”
If @WhitefishEnergy feels that asking for transparency is ”misplaced”, what are they afraid we will find.
— Carmen Yulín Cruz (@CarmenYulinCruz) October 25, 2017
Whitefish shot back with a threat to leave.
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
The company later apologized. Lawmakers, though, are eager to know how Whitefish got the job in the first place. They also question whether Whitefish will be able to fulfill its end of the deal.
“This appears to be a pretty small company. Are they capable of doing the job that they’ve been asked,” said Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-AK.
Politicians on Capitol Hill from both sides of the aisle are now calling for an investigation into the Whitefish contract.
Whitefish Energy’s largest previous federal contract was for only $1.3 million to upgrade power lines in Arizona. The company’s ties to the Trump administration are under scrutiny.
Andy Techmanski, founder and CEO of Whitefish Energy, knows Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and the company is based in his hometown.
Also, Whitefish Energy is back by HBC Investments. It’s found and general partner, Joe Colonnetta, gave $33,000 to the campaign of then-Texas Gov., now Energy Secretary Rick Perry. Colonnetta and his wife also gave $28,2000 to support President Trump’s election.
Whitefish insists a main reason it won the deal is because it was willing to accept much less money up front than the other company under consideration.