Puerto Rico Not Allowed To Audit Energy Company Restoring Its Power

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The contract for Whitefish Energy Holdings, which only had two employees when Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, includes provisions protecting it from audits.

Two workers from Whitefish Energy are harnessed and suspended in the air as other workers watch them prepare to make repairs.

Details are emerging about the deal allowing Whitefish Energy to manage repairs for Puerto Rico’s broken energy grid. The company had just two employees at the time Hurricane Maria made landfall there.

A copy of the contract that establishes Whitefish Energy as the company charged with fixing the energy problems currently facing the island territory leaked online this week, and it contains some questionable clauses that benefit them at the expense of the government of Puerto Rico and the people who reside there.

The government, for instance, cannot obtain information on how much the company will ultimately make from the deal. Nor can any government apparatus examine labor standards within the deal, the Hill reports.

"In no event shall [local or federal government agencies] or any of their authorized representatives have the right to audit or review the cost and profit elements of the labor rates specified herein," the contract states.

Journalist Ken Klippenstein, who writes for The Daily Beast, obtained the contract and posted it directly to social media Thursday evening. He made a copy of the entire contract available to anyone who wanted to look at it via Document Cloud.

Klippenstein also pointed out more absurdities found within the contract, including a per diem cost of around $80 for each employee hired to pay for meals daily, as well as a line that denies Puerto Rico the right to complain or investigate issues arising from the project taking too long to complete.

It was already a shady deal to begin with. The $300 million contract was awarded to Whitefish Energy Holdings last week. The company has strong ties to the President Donald Trump administration, including making huge donations to Trump and the Republican National Committee in 2016, and having a longstanding relationship with Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.

Compounding those complications, however, is this contract, which clearly grants huge leeway to the company with very little means for the people of Puerto Rico to do anything if aspects of the deal fall short.

“If you ever wonder why the Caribbean is so much poorer than its U.S. neighbor, colonial-style plunder like Whitefish explains a lot,” Klippenstein tweeted out after revealing the contract online.

And sadly, he’s right — this contract exploits Americans living in Puerto Rico and fattens the wallets of the president’s supporters, who obtained the right to work on the project in some questionable ways.

Banner/thumbnail image credit: Alvin Baez/Reuters

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