Zinke’s Hometown Firm Gets Big Puerto Rico Contract

By on October 25, 2017
Did Zinke help this no-name firm get the gig?

Last week, the Weather Channel was first to report that a heretofore unheard of firm in Montana won a $300 million bid to repair the ravaged electrical infrastructure of Puerto Rico, which was destroyed last month when Hurricane Maria decimated the island.

According to multiple media reports, Whitefish Holdings is located in the hometown of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who is also friendly with its CEO, Andy Techmanski. The company has only been in existence for two years and only had two employees on the day that Maria made landfall on the island nation.

Uncoincidentally, Techmanski was a huge Trump donor and maxed out his contributions to the President’s primary campaign, as well as his general election bid. He was also a top contributor to a Trump-backing super PAC last year.

So why was Whitefish awarded this major contract? The sheer scope of this project is monumental, which would seemingly mean that the company in charge of it should at least have some experience in grid rehabilitation.

But Whitefish doesn’t have any such experience. For its part, Whitefish is claiming that Techmanski’s relationship with Zinke wasn’t a factor in the company being awarded the bid, but that really doesn’t seem likely given the breadth of circumstances here.

“The fact that there are so many utilities with experience in this and a huge track record of helping each other out, it is at least odd why [the utility] would go to Whitefish,” Susan F. Tierney, a former top official with the Energy Department said to the Washington Post. “I’m scratching my head wondering how it all adds up.”

As are the rest of us. Following Occam’s Razor, the most likely explanation is that the government gave Zinke’s friend a sweetheart deal as a “thank you” for his numerous contributions to the Trump campaign in 2016.