The enormous task of rebuilding Puerto Rico’s electrical grid after Hurricane Maria was one that Elon Musk wanted to take on, but somehow, the contract went to a tiny Montana company. Whitefish Energy only had two full-time employees before scoring the $300 million deal, and the offer looked sketchy, to say the least, especially after folks figured out that Whitefish was closely associated with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) called the deal a “swindle” and another example of the U.S. “screwing Puerto Rico for over 100 years.” Following Whitefish’s subsequent Twitter feud with the San Juan mayor, Gov. Ricardo Rossello has officially had enough.
On Sunday morning, Rossello officially asked the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) to negate the Whitefish contract. NBC News reports that Rossello referenced an existing cancellation clause within the agreement and asked for “immediate” action:
“In light of the information that has come about with regards to the contracting of Whitefish Energy and in the interests of protecting our public interests I have asked the board of the power authority to invoke the cancellation clause in the contract immediately.”
Rossello’s words also follow a bizarre statement made on Saturday by Whitefish Energy’s CEO, Andy Techmanski, who claimed that he first contacted Puerto Rican officials through LinkedIn. While calling the controversy a “witch hunt,” Techmanski also asserted that, yes, LinkedIn helped an unknown quantity score a $300 million deal, and he says it had nothing to do with the Zenke connection.
Meanwhile, this whole Whitefish thing is looking so suspect that FEMA — which previously deleted statistics on water access and electricity in Puerto Rico — is distancing itself from the company. According to the Washington Post, the agency’s digging into PREPA’s contract with Whitefish to see if the parties “followed applicable regulations to ensure that federal money is properly spent.” This doesn’t sound like good news for Whitefish, although given that President Trump threatened to pull FEMA away from recovery in the U.S. territory, the agency’s sudden interest in the matter is also … odd.