Day 280: Trump’s Interior Secretary and the $300 Million Government Contract

Puerto Rico recently awarded a $300 million contract to a virtually unknown, minuscule company named Whitefish Energy to help restore power to the island in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. Whitefish, which boasts an annual revenue of $1 million and has been in business a mere two years, got the job without having to bid against other potential contractors.

Donald Trump’s Interior Secretary, Ryan Zinke — a man connected to questionable PACs; who has chartered numerous private aircraft on the taxpayers’ dime, including some owned by oil and gas executives; who enforces bizarre flag-hoisting rules — is connected to the shadiness of Whitefish.

Whitefish Energy is based in Whitefish, Mont., the home town of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. Its chief executive, Andy Techmanski, and Zinke acknowledge knowing one another — but only, Zinke’s office said in an email, because Whitefish is a small town where “everybody knows everybody.” One of Zinke’s sons “joined a friend who worked a summer job” at one of Techmanski’s construction sites, the email said. Whitefish said he worked as a “flagger.”
Zinke’s office said he had no role in Whitefish securing the contract for work in Puerto Rico. Techmanski also said Zinke was not involved.

Any official federal government assistance provided to Whitefish after the contract had been awarded, according to Zinke’s office, is standard practice.

NBC Montana quoted Techmanski in a report Oct. 1 as saying he had asked Zinke for help in getting personnel and equipment to the territory. Chiames, the Whitefish spokesman, confirmed that “Once the company got the go-ahead from PREPA on September 26 to begin work, company executives did reach out to contacts in case they could help expedite getting qualified linesmen to the island.”
Zinke’s office said: “The Secretary always politely listens when citizens and the small business community approach him with concerns and ideas. Neither the Secretary nor anyone in his office have taken any meetings or action on behalf of this company.”

A microscopic player over 3,000 miles away from Puerto Rico with only two full-time employees secures a nine-figure, no-bid government contract. And the CEO of that company just so happens to be buddies with an Interior Secretary who has been fundraising in the Caribbean and is currently under investigation for mixing personal and political affairs.

Maybe it’s all just a $300 million coincidence.

280 days in, 1182 to go


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