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San Juan Mayor Calls Out Firm Picked By Trump To Restore Puerto Rico's Power

SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO - SEPTEMBER 30: San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz speaks to the media as she arrives at the temporary government center setup at the Roberto Clemente stadium in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria on September 30, 2017 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico experienced widespread damage including most of the electrical, gas and water grid as well as agriculture after Hurricane Maria, a category 4 hurricane, passed through. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz of Puerto Rico, engaged in heated banter on Twitter Wednesday with the small Montana energy firm awarded a $300 million no-bid contract to restore power to the island devastated by Hurricane Maria.

Last month, the Trump administration awarded Whitefish Energy Holdings the contract to restore Puerto Rico's power grid. But that decision invited controversy as the island still struggles to provide power to more than 75% of residents. Hurricane Maria hit on September 20.


Whitefish Energy is a tiny two-year old for-profit utility company connected to a prominent Trump campaign donor as well as Trump’s Interior Secretary, Ryan Zinke. Mayor Yulin Cruz called the no-bid contract "alarming" and demanded it be voided in light of ethical discrepancies.

The contract should be voided right away, and a proper process which is clear, transparent, legal, moral and ethical should take place. What we need is somebody that can get the job done and that has the expertise to get the job done."

Whitefish Energy, which reportedly employed only two full-time employees when the contract was awarded, said it shared Cruz's frustrations but in an attached image on their letterhead called her comments "disappointing", "demoralizing", and "misplaced".

Whitefish Energy responds to Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz via Twitter attachment on official letterhead. (Photo credit / Twitter)

In response, Cruz criticized Whitefish for suggesting she was alone in her concerns about the no-bid contract and included their Tweet criticizing her comments.

Mayor Cruz also shared a breakdown of costs associated with the use of private company Whitefish Energy out of Montana instead of requesting mutual aid from public utilities in nearby states with experience dealing with hurricane damage.

In the Trump administration's awarding of the contract, through the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA), they chose not to make arrangements with other, larger utilities more commonly used following natural disasters, including those in Texas and Florida.

Cruz's shared graphic is in Spanish, but as she notes, one doesn't need to know the language to do the math.

In a now deleted Tweet, a Whitefish Energy official appeared to threaten to remove workers because of Mayor Cruz's criticisms. Cruz shared a screenshot of their Tweet in her response.

Whitefish Energy and its representatives have since deleted most of their side of the battle with Mayor Cruz. They have also posted an apology to Mayor Cruz and the people of Puerto Rico.