Two House committees, the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the House Natural Resources Committee, are investigating a $300 million no-bid contract awarded to Whitefish Energy to help rebuild Puerto Rico’s electrical grid, which was decimated by Hurricane Maria. Critics have also alleged the company has ties to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, whose hometown, Whitefish, Montana, is where the company is based.
Whitefish Energy spokesperson Kevin Luce weighed in on the investigations, telling the FOX Business Network’s Dagen McDowell on “Mornings with Maria,” “The investigations are not warranted. First off, PREPA (Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority) hired a firm, Whitefish Energy, who has extensive experience fixing transmission lines, especially in the mountains, which is assignment.”
One concern raised was that the company only had two employees when the hurricane hit Puerto Rico. Luce responded to the concerns, saying, “There’s just this jump to say ‘there’s nothing being done,’ which is inaccurate.”
According to Luce, the facts aren’t being reported, explaining, “The fact you have two employees and you have a business model that ramps up just like hundreds of firms in the United States and all over the world and you now have 320 employees.”
Luce did say the claims Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s son had an internship at the company were true. “He did, he was a flagger, so he directed traffic on a summer job through a friend.”
Luce took issue with allegations Secretary Zinke may have influenced the contract.
“To say the Interior secretary had anything to do with the contract, number one it’s not true, everyone has said so. He found out about the contract after it was let. And he also has no authority over FEMA, the Corps, PREPA, so again, there’s a jump today to guilt versus facts.”
Along with the two House committees investigations, Puerto Rico’s Gov. Ricardo Rossello says his administration will soon audit the contract as well.
Luce says the company is cooperating with the committees, proving the documents requested.
“Every member of Congress should have the information that they’re asking for and we will certainly give that out.”