San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz on Tuesday said the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority should cancel its “alarming” $300 million contract with a tiny Montana utility company financed by major donors to President Donald Trump “right away.”
“The contract should be voided right away and a proper process which is clear, transparent, legal, moral, and ethical should take place,” Cruz told Yahoo News.
She said the $300 million contract between the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority and Whitefish Energy Holdings, a tiny Montana company run by a CEO friendly with Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, is “alarming.”
“It seems like what the Puerto Rican people are going to be paying for, or the American people are going to be paying for, is an intermediary that doesn’t know what is at stake here and that really has to subcontract everything,” Cruz said.
Cruz has been a vocal critic of the federal response in Puerto Rico, drawing attacks from Trump and other members of his administration. In the Yahoo interview, she suggested the slow response was “because we’re a colony of the United States to begin with.”
“Yes, there is racism. There is discrimination,” she said. “Mr. Trump may have the most powerful job in the world, but that does not make him a respectful person.”
The Daily Beast reported on Tuesday that Whitefish Energy Holdings’ general partner donated the maximum amounts permitted to Trump’s Republican primary campaign and his presidential campaign, gave $20,000 to the Trump Victory PAC and donated a total of $30,700 to the Republican National Committee in 2016.
Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), the top Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee, on Tuesday called for an investigation into “why the Whitefish contract was awarded and whether other, more cost-effective options were available.”
“We share the mayor’s frustration with the situation on Puerto Rico, but her comments are misplaced,” Whitefish Energy Holdings told TPM in a statement.
The company told TPM it has “more than 300 workers on the island and that number is growing daily.”
“We find her comments to be very disappointing and demoralizing to the hundreds of people on our team that have left their homes and families and have come here to help the people of Puerto Rico,” Whitefish Energy Holdings said.
Cruz on Wednesday afternoon questioned the company’s statement that called her remarks “misplaced.”
“If @WhitefishEnergy feels that asking for transparency is ”misplaced”, what are they afraid we will find,” she tweeted.
In response, Whitefish Energy Holdings appeared to threaten to withdraw its workers from San Juan.
This post has been updated.
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