USA Today reports:
A $300 million contract to help rebuild Puerto Rico’s electrical infrastructure, which was awarded to a small, two-year-old Montana company that had only two employees when Hurricane Maria struck the U.S. territory, has sparked calls for an investigation from both Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill.
In addition to its size and relative inexperience, the fact that Whitefish Energy Holdings is based in Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s hometown of Whitefish, Mont., is fueling questions about how Whitefish Energy Holdings secured the lucrative contract. The former Montana congressman’s son also had a summer job at a Whitefish construction site.
Whitefish was awarded the deal without a competitive bidding process, and despite the facts that it had just two full-time employees and was established only two years ago. That drew criticism from legislators who suggested cheaper options might have been available.
In a statement on Tuesday, Governor Ricardo Rossello said his administration would review PREPA’s contracting practices and forward findings to the island’s comptroller. Rossello defended the deal, saying it was necessary to ensure Puerto Rico would have workers in place quickly.
“Of those (contractors) who met the requirements and aggressive schedules to bring brigades, one was asking for a substantial amount of money – which PREPA had no liquidity for – and another did not require it,” Rossello said. “That other one is Whitefish.”