MARIA: San Juan mayor, other no show at Capitol Hill hearing about Whitefish

By Spectrum News Staff,
Last Updated: Wednesday, November 08, 2017, 8:38 AM EST

Two officials from Puerto Rico were no shows at a hearing on Capitol Hill on Tuesday regarding Whitefish Energy among them the mayor of San Juan.

Lawmakers in Washington are asking why a $300 million contract was given to Whitefish Energy to repair the island's electrical system after Hurricane Maria.

Whitefish also has ties to the White House. The company is based in the same 7,000-person town in Montana as Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.

The Interior Department has denied that Zinke, a former Montana congressman, played any role in the contract award. Zinke knows Whitefish CEO Andy Techmanski “because they both live in a small town where everyone knows everyone,” a spokeswoman said. Zinke’s son had a summer job at a Whitefish construction site

The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority executive director cancelled his testimony because he said power restoration is at a critical stage.

San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz also cancelled her testimony.

The House Natural Resources Committee chairman said he was disappointed that they did not show.

"You have to deal with the Puerto Rican electrical power authority, known as PREPA, which was already bankrupt severely mismanaged with a long history of inadequate maintenance and political cronyism," stated Utah Republican Rep. Rob Bishop.

It was reported last week that the F.B.I. had opened a preliminary review of the Whitefish contract.