The FBI has reportedly launched an investigation into the $300 million no-bid contract awarded to Whitefish Energy, a tiny Montana-based energy company headquartered in Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s hometown, to repair Puerto Rico’s electrical grid, according to The Wall Street Journal.
FBI agents from the San Juan field office are investigating the deal and how Whitefish and the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) came to the agreement.
Neither the FBI nor Whitefish responded to requests for comment.
The report comes after PREPA said Sunday it had accepted Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló’s request to “immediately” cancel the contract.
The FBI is just the latest government entity to probe the Whitefish deal, joining the House Energy and Commerce and Natural Resources Committees, the inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security, and Puerto Rico’s government in their own investigations.
The Hill added:
The Trump administration has sought to distance itself from the contract. Zinke said last week he had nothing to do with it in a forceful statement Friday, while FEMA said it did not approve the deal.
The utility agreed to the deal with Whitefish without a competitive bidding process, which is allowable under FEMA regulations in emergencies. Whitefish CEO Andy Techmanski said he reached out to the utility via LinkedIn, and PREPA officials said they chose Whitefish because it didn’t require a large down payment, unlike most mainland utilities. Whitefish and PREPA have consistently defended the deal and said there was nothing illegal or improper about it.
“There’s nothing illegal here … Of that, we’re sure,” PREPA CEO Ricardo Ramos said Sunday. “The process was done according to the law.”