Tuesday, September 10, 2019

"Current, former FEMA officials among three charged with fraud tied to hurricane relief in Puerto Rico"

WaPo:

One of the officials, who the Justice Department identified as FEMA’s “primary leader” for restoring power on the island, pressured her colleagues and Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority officials to give government work to the company, Cobra Acquisitions LLC, authorities said.

In exchange, authorities said, the company’s then-president gave her a helicopter ride, hotel accommodations, first-class airfare, personal security services and use of a credit card. And, when a friend and colleague left FEMA, the executive helped her get a job at Cobra Energy LLC, authorities said.

...

The restoration project was hampered early on by scandal after the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, the island’s power company, awarded a contract to a little-known, two-person firm out of Montana called Whitefish Energy to rebuild the grid.

After that contract was withdrawn, Cobra, a subsidiary of Mammoth Energy, became one of three stateside companies to win federal money to replace transmission towers, erect power poles and restring power lines across Puerto Rico.
From 2017:
Puerto Rico just hired 2 contractors with little experience to fix its broken power grid

...

Puerto Rico's public power company has awarded big contracts to US energy companies with no experience responding to a major disaster. Generally, experienced utility crews take on the daunting task of repairing power grids in most US disaster zones.

Neither contract was awarded through a regular bidding process either, though it could be optional under a technical rule from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Still, the decision to forgo an official process concerns experts and set off alarm bells in Washington, especially after the Washington Post reported that the CEO of one of the companies, Whitefish Energy Services, is the neighbor of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke in their small hometown of Whitefish, Montana.

...

An Oklahoma-based fracking company announced last week it had also signed a contract with PREPA. This is a four-month, $200 million contract with a subsidiary of Mammoth Energy, called Cobra Energy. Their job is to design and build a new electric grid for Puerto Rico. The CEO of Mammoth says Cobra has electrical experience in the Midwest, but according to Mammoth’s website, the company’s deeper expertise is in drilling and fracking
*Previously: "Why Is Tulsi Gabbard Paying This Obscure Consultant Big Bucks?"