Newsdeck

Newsdeck

Trump donor-linked firm gets $300 mn Puerto Rico contract

by Leila MACOR An American firm that snagged a lucrative contract to restore electricity in storm-ravaged Puerto Rico is under scrutiny because its primary financial backer made contributions to Donald Trump.

Whitefish Energy Holdings is a tiny Montana-based company founded two years ago — and primarily financed by the private equity firm HBC Investments — that won a reportedly $300 million contract to help return power to the storm-battered US territory.

The Federal Electoral Commission (FEC), the US agency overseeing election law compliance, lists investor Joe Colonnetta as a major financial donor to Trump’s presidential campaign.

Puerto Rico is struggling to recover after Maria ripped through the island, leaving dozens of people dead and cutting power and running water to much of its population.

Slightly more than a month after the storm, some 80 percent of customers still lack power.

Given the scale of the destruction, it came as a surprise that a small company like Whitefish received such a crucial contract.

After The Daily Beast news website reported about the Whitefish-Trump connection, island authorities and the company itself hurried to defend the decision.

“Of those who met the requirements and aggressive schedules to bring brigades, one was asking for a substantial amount of money,” said Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello, who promised audits of contracting processes. 

“Another did not require it; that other one is Whitefish.

“The process was started because of the emergency situation, in order to be able to have brigades working here in Puerto Rico.”

Whitefish spokesman Ken Luce denounced as “baseless” any connection between the contract and the Trump campaign.

“There are millions of Trump supporters and there were millions of Clinton supporters,” he added.

The United States has faced widespread criticism for its response to Maria, as well as aid efforts following an earlier walloping from Hurricane Irma.

The twin storms slammed into the island already struggling with a severe financial crisis that forced the government to file for bankruptcy in May.

Ricardo Ramos, the head of Puerto Rico’s power authority, called Whitefish’s winning bid the “best decision” for the island because it required a much smaller advance than other companies had required. DM

Gallery

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted

A South African Hero: You

There’s a 99.7% chance that this isn’t for you. Only 0.3% of our readers have responded to this call for action.

Those 0.3% of our readers are our hidden heroes, who are fuelling our work and impacting the lives of every South African in doing so. They’re the people who contribute to keep Daily Maverick free for all, including you.

The equation is quite simple: the more members we have, the more reporting and investigations we can do, and the greater the impact on the country.

Be part of that 0.3%. Be a Maverick. Be a Maverick Insider.

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options

MavericKids vol 3

How can a child learn to read if they don't have a book?

81% of South African children aged 10 can't read for meaning. You can help by pre-ordering a copy of MavericKids.

For every copy sold we will donate a copy to Gift of The Givers for children in need of reading support.