Gage Skidmore / Flickr Ryan Zinke...
Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke incongruously assured Donald Trump on Friday that he had “no role” in Puerto Rico’s controversial decision to sign a $300 million contract with Whitefish Energy, an electrical  utility repair company based in Zinke’s hometown, according to the White House.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump asked Zinke during an Oval Office meeting if he had any involvement in the Whitefish Energy Holdings contract. She said the president raised the question “just for clarification purposes.”
“He reiterated once again that we have no role — the federal government — and specifically he had no role in that contract,” Sanders told reporters.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) sounded the alarm Friday on the contract with Whitefish Energy, amid concerns about the firm’s tiny staff and lack of competitive bidding. Whitefish had only two employees before reaching a deal with the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority.
Trump’s question to Zinke is a possible sign the president is concerned about suggestions that Zinke was involved in the deal. Zinke knows Whitefish CEO Andy Techmanski and his son worked at one of the company’s construction sites. An Interior Department spokesperson chalked up the relationship to the fact “they both live in a small town where everyone knows everyone” and said Zinke had no involvement in the contract.

If it waddles like a grifter, and it quacks like a grifter, and has a yellow bill just like a grifter — maybe it’s a grifter.

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