On October 23, 2017, news broke that a $300 million contract to restore electrical power in Puerto Rico had been awarded to Whitefish Energy, a small Montana-based company with only two full-time employees.
The company is based in Whitefish, Mont. — Zinke’s hometown. Despite attempts by the Interior Department (DOI) to downplay any relationship between the two, reports indicated that Zinke knew Whitefish CEO Andy Techmanski and that Zinke’s son had previously worked for one of Techmanski’s companies. Additional reporting indicated that one of Whitefish Energy’s primary investors donated almost $100,000 to support President Donald Trump’s campaign.
Puerto Rico went without power for 11 months after the hurricane hit, and there were serious questions about whether the Trump administration had doled out critical contracts to friends and donors — rather than to those best equipped for the job. Zinke resigned from his position in December 2018, but American Oversight continues to investigate why this little-known company was awarded such a lucrative contract.