Zinke: ‘I Had Absolutely Nothing To Do’ With Whitefish’s Puerto Rico Contract

Bill Clark/CQPHO

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke on Friday said he welcomed all investigations into Whitefish Energy Holdings, an electric company based in his hometown that was recently awarded a $300 million contract to repair Puerto Rico’s badly damaged electricity infrastructure.

“I had absolutely nothing to do with Whitefish Energy receiving a contract in Puerto Rico,” Zinke said in his statement. “Any attempts by the dishonest media or political operatives to tie me to awarding or influencing any contract involving Whitefish are completely baseless.”

Zinke acknowledged that he “was contacted by the company” after the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) awarded Whitefish the contract, but, he said, “I took no action.”

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders similarly distanced the White House from the Whitefish contract on Friday.

The company has defended the propriety of its agreement with PREPA, which came under suspicion after revelations that Whitefish was financed by major donors to President Donald Trump, and that the company is headquartered in Zinke’s hometown of Whitefish, Montana.

On Oct. 24, the Interior Department said in a statement that neither Zinke nor his office “have taken any meetings or action on behalf of this company,” referring to Whitefish.

The same statement acknowledged that Zinke knows Whitefish CEO Andy Techmanskis, “because they both live in a small town where everyone knows everyone.”