MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle pummels Whitefish Energy spokesperson over sketchy Puerto Rico contract
A spokesperson representing Whitefish Energy — which received a controversial $300 million contract to restore power in hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico — ran into a buzzsaw Friday morning when he agreed to sit down with MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle.
With the Montana company reeling from a report showing that the controversial contract disallows any official body “to audit or review the cost and profit elements of the labor rates” as part of the deal, the energy company dispatched spokesperson Ken Luce to defend the deal
“Ken, let’s start with the Whitefish Energy contract, obviously down in Puerto Rico. How did you guys get it?” Ruhle asked of the company that only shows two full-time employees.
“This is really a very simple effort by an entrepreneur to get on the plane, fly to Puerto Rico when no one else would,” Luce explained. “They wanted to do business in Puerto Rico and they got there. it’s nothing.”
“But sir, we keep hearing there weren’t other bids, but we know that the American Association of Public Utilities, AAPU, also was interested in the contract and they also had no strings attached and weren’t asking for anything up front,” Ruhle countered.
“Well, I can’t speak for [Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA)] and whether they talked to AA, that’s up to PREPA,” Luce responded while gazing up at the ceiling. “What I do know is that we are there doing work today with 325 people on the island and the Army Corps and others and their contractors are not there yet.”
“It’s strange to the average eye to say how does this teeny-tiny company in Whitefish, Montana, hometown of [Interior Secretary] Ryan Zinke get the contract and Florida Power and Light doesn’t,” Ruhle pressed.
According to Luce, questions about how the contract was awarded are “conspiracy theories,” and he defended the company by saying they have people already in Puerto Rico working.
Ruhle wasn’t having Luce’s deflection, responding, “Good faith questions are not necessarily conspiracy theories, especially when we are talking about large sums of money like $300 million.”
The MSNBC host also battered the spokesperson with questions about the company’s history of large scale projects with Luce defending the deal by insisting Whitefish Energy was still the only company interested in the Puerto Rico contract.
“The inference is there is something going on here other than an entrepreneur at a small company got off his butt, went to Puerto Rico when others would not and those other companies did not reach out to PREPA is my understanding,” he offered. “And even if they did, the money was an issue working with PREPA, the other company that was interested in it has stated publicly wanted 10 to 15 times more.”
“Then we are going to disagree because the American Association of Public Utilities did not have strings attached and did not ask for money up front,” the MSNBC host shot back.
Watch the video below via MSNBC: