The World’s Worst Cabinet Is Also Corrupt

In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, people in Puerto Rico are still suffering. Thousands are drinking polluted water, much of the island (they’re American citizens, President Trump, even though they’re brown) is still without power and many are without food and medicine.

To say that the federal government’s response has been inadequate would be kind.

They may not know how government works or what it’s for, but the Trumpsters sure do know how private “entrepreneurs” can use other people’s misery to make money. As Talking Points Memo (among many others) has recently reported,

A tiny Montana utility company that received a $300 million contract to help restore power to Puerto Rico after its electrical grid was devastated by Hurricane Maria is financed by major Trump donors and run by a CEO friendly with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, a series of recent reports has revealed.

The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority’s granting of the huge contract to Whitefish Energy Holdings, a two-year-old company that reportedly had two full-time employees when the hurricane first hit, was first reported by the Weather Channel last week.

Both the Washington Post and the Daily Beast have offered intriguing–albeit nauseating– details on the company’s investors. The Post noted the “coincidence” that the firm is based in  Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s hometown and that its CEO, one Andy Techmanski, is a friend of  the Interior secretary. The Daily Beast reported that Whitefish’s general partner “maxed out” donations not just to Trump’s primary and general election campaigns, but also to a Trump super PAC.

I’m sure those generous contributions were just “coincidental” too.

Gee, why do you suppose that Whitefish–with all of two employees– was awarded the contract to restore electricity to hundreds of thousands of Puerto Rico residents?  Zinke’s office and Techmanski both told reporters for the Post that the Interior secretary “played no role in securing the contract.” (And I have a bridge in Brooklyn I can sell you….)

After news of this “arms length” contract emerged, a number of publications pointed out that the type of work Whitefish will be doing is typically handled through what are called “mutual aid” agreements with other utilities, not by for-profit companies. Again, from Talking Points Memo,

“The fact that there are so many utilities with experience in this and a huge track record of helping each other out, it is at least odd why [the utility] would go to Whitefish,” Susan F. Tierney, a former senior official at the Energy Department told the Post. “I’m scratching my head wondering how it all adds up.”

In addition to Techmanski’s relationship with Zinke, Joe Colonnetta, partner at Whitefish and founder of HBC Investments, the private-equity firm that finances the energy company, is a significant power player in Republican politics, according to the Beast.

Colonetta donated a total of $74,000 towards Trump’s presidential victory and $30,700 to the Republican National Committee, the Beast reported. His wife, Kimberly, separately gave $33,400 to the RNC shortly after Trump’s win, and was photographed with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson during inauguration week, per the report.

Daily Kos was–predictably– less circumspect.

In the midst of the disaster in Puerto Rico, it appears that someone may have engaged in graft as large as the hurricane that hit the island. Like other electrical utilities, the state-owned Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority has multiple mutual-aid agreements with other utilities. It can call on these agreements for help in repairing the power grid in an emergency. These are the same kind of arrangements that allowed utilities in Florida to get power there restored so quickly following the passage of Irma. But even though 79 percent of the island remains without power, PREPA  isn’t calling on those agreements.

A constellation of companies, including those controlled by Tesla’s Elon Musk, have offered to work with Puerto Rico to transform the island into a model for the nation using a series of micro-grids, distributed solar, and local storage. The resulting system would be clean, flexible, and resistant to large-scale failure. But, so far at least, none of those companies have the nod to proceed.

Instead, PREPA has awarded $300 million to Whitefish Energy

Before getting this contract, Whitefish’s largest contract was to install a single electrical line less than five miles long. They had a year to do it.

This smells so fishy that even our supine Congress is launching a bipartisan investigation.

Is America great again yet?


  1. fema,privitazation of the federal goverment,AKA ALEC.. the koch bros dream girl. i wont call her a ,,,,, but you get the idea. when i was in the navy, vietnam days, i worked as a seabee in construction,i did two weeks guard duty,as a training thing, at roosevelt roads,PR.I rememeber when there was disaters in the carib, the navy,coast guard and any other u.s.forces immediatly jumped in and helped. clear the piers,roads,emergency meds,it was like going to a war zone and getting the civilians up and going. this travisty,beyond the hurricane is unacceptable. they are citizens like us,no diffrent. and deserve the best we give to any of the states. the fact, PR has 85 billion in debt to hedge funds,,because again,we ignored them. with continued cutting up of the working class, we have only again,devistated more Americans with our leaders again, rulling someone,somewhere,even in the needs of many. the goverment can not show compassion anymore. its all money. alec is designed to privatize services,plain and simple. and FEMA is the instrument. take a look at the documentry, Hiest,who stole the american dream, and sit down and watch it. it spelled out for a 10 year old to understand. we have created a monster above anything even orwell could have invisioned. its a fact, our wages are the lamb, and it delivers no tax base to support any services anymore. we now depend on banks, wall street and greed to run this country in a plutocracy. now, who are you pointing a finger at, better left for typing letter to those who support this scam… PR, katrina, any fema related plan, is a disaster for the people, but its a gold mine for the greed. we dug this hole, now throw the shovel away. I have watched this since reagan, and where are we? PR has the balls to speak out,and maybe the news media should take a hit too. its been nothing but a free for all in the news media to, show it as thier policy shows it. war, show the bodies,show the carnage, show the world how America treats its own people..

  2. The most dangerous criminal element in this country all wear suits and ties. From the boards of directors of pharmaceutical companies to the office suites of Wall Street it is hard to match the human suffering caused by the greedy bastards who influence and control Congress. There seems to be no line they will not cross in their efforts to make more and more money. A curse on all of them.

  3. NPR’s story on Whitefish was very curious. It gave the company a complete pass, mentioned Puerto Rican debt as one reason mutual-aid wasn’t quickly forth-coming, and completely missed the political contributions. Very disappointing for “news organization” that used to have teeth.

  4. We are now being ruled by the American Monarchy headed by King Donald I, with full support from his immediate family, once known as Cabinet members. They are aided and abetted by the branch of first cousins once known as Congress; comprised of the Senate and House of Representatives.

    The reference to questionable contracting with Whitefish Energy Holdings is obviously another “red herring” to distract us from the Royal Family’s continuing “deconstruction” of democracy and the entire U.S. government as established by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. “This smells so fishy that even our supine Congress is launching a bipartisan investigation.” Will the work of Whitefish be halted during the investigation; further depriving American citizens in Puerto Rico of life saving aid? To what end has other laughingly called “bipartisan investigations and/or actions come” since January 20, 2017? This, too, will be shuffled to the bottom of the deck or swept under the carpet as we ignore their moving ahead with “tax cuts” and destroying the ACA sans bipartisan Congressional control.

    Has anyone questioned what part of the budget the millions supporting Trump’s almost weekly golf breaks is being drained? Support of the Royal Family, no longer the First Family, must have it’s limitations; we know they have already depleted the entire Secret Service tax budget providing protection and renting golf carts. How is FEMA’s budget holding up under the recent onslaught of hurricanes?

  5. WFYI runs a spot that uses the Jefferson quote: “An educated citizenry is a vital requisite for our survival as a free people.”
    The press and media are critical to maintaining an educated citizenry. Most of the media has been reduced to mere advertising and transcription by the managing accountants who make business decisions. In a few more years the free press will be dead and we’ll look back on the Trump era as the beginning of the end of democracy.

  6. My gut feeling is that they will get away with this robbery and we taxpayers will be footing the bill for years.

    It’s been all over the news and I have yet to read a story about how this contract can be rescinded. We truly have gone back to the days of Robber Barrons commiting their robbery in broad daylight.

  7. “Crooked Hillary.” Yeah, right. I guess SOMEone had to show her how it’s really done. “GOP” now stands for, among other things, Grifters On Parade.

  8. “In a few more years the free press will be dead and we’ll look back on the Trump era as the beginning of the end of democracy.” I look back to the Ray-gun era as the middle of the end of democracy; the assassination of John and Robert Kennedy was the beginning.

  9. To be really snarky: Marv Kramer this week added ro my education by telling us about his mentor who did the study which resulted in the term WASP – our upper class of wealth, education and social standing. I wonder which English shire is the home of the Zinke, Techmanski and Colonneta klans cashing on Puerto Rico’s misery.

  10. We’ve been acting like fools for nearly 50 years. What else can you expect?

    fool (fool) n. [< L. follis, windbag] l. a silly or stupid person 2. a jester 3. A VICTIM OF A TRICK, ETC., DUPE—vi. l. TO ACT LIKE A FOOL 2. to joke 3. [Inf.] to meddle (with) —vt. TO TRICK; DECEIVE—fool around [Inf.] to trifle—fool'er-y n.

  11. I twittered a few days ago on this latest and most blatant theft by those in authority, called out Zinke as a crook, and asked what his number was in Zurich. It used to be that crooks hid their antics from public view, and while they were still crooks, they were at least cognizant of certain societal norms to the contrary, hence their secretiveness. You didn’t call the bank to announce it would be robbed at 2:00 P.M., and you didn’t give a 300 million dollar contract to your friends and their hedge fund backers.
    Apparently that norm can now be disregarded in this age of Trump and onrushing greed as there is no need for pretense. Rubio here in Florida explains Trump with the classic “Everybody’s doing it” nonsense about cultural change in everything, schools, churches, politics etc. Wrong. He’s comparing apples and oranges. Honesty and fair dealing are not subject to change whether in an industrial age, information age or the coming age of AI. Rubio’s spin is a cover for the further disillusionment of ordinary Americans, disillusionment that elected Trump to the Oval Office. Nice try, Mario, but please stay on topic.
    Among others, the plainly corrupt Zinke is a predator and the rest of us are prey, especially Puerto Ricans, whose gross mistreatment in time of existential need is beyond appalling. We first need to fix the problem in Puerto Rico and then conduct an objective investigation of this latest outrage with a grand jury on hand to consider indictment of Trump’s Secretary of the Interior and his comrades in greed, among others. Perhaps Trump can select an “impartial” special prosecutor for the job to assure the whitewash – no legislative or judicial tribunal need apply in this day of power grab by the executive. GRRRR!

  12. Maybe 45 could pay Puerto Rico the millions he owed them before he discharged the debt through bankruptcy. Puerto Rico has been at the mercy of the Republican Congress in managing its debt. The island has been bankrupt for several years and Congress ignores real solutions in order to protect the banks and hedge funds that hold so much of the island’s debt.

  13. Peggy – You are right to a fault. Instead of helping our people in Puerto Rico manage their debt we have decided to protect bondholders in making America great again. Tsk!

  14. Good question: From an ethical standpoint, how does the phrase “Arbeit macht frei” (“Work sets you free”) at the entrances of many of the Nazi death camps differ from Donald Trump’s campaign promise “Make America Great Again”?

    More importantly, will both phrases have created similar END GAMES?

    WARNING: Don’t play games with a SOCIOPATH. When will we learn not to do that? answer: Probably never.

  15. The more you play games with a SOCIOPATH, the stronger he becomes and the weaker you become. You lose all credibility.

    I know this first hand: As I have mentioned before, my father was a millionaire sociopath. You have to deal with them the way they really are: CRIMINALS.

    Unfortunately, I was too young to know better when it all started. And I’ve paid the price for my mistake. I don’t have that excuse this time around. I’ve learned my lesson.

    That’s why I purchased the domain: a week after Trump announced his run for the presidency. I didn’t want to be guilty again.

  16. $300 million is peanuts. According to the BBC 10 June 2008 >>> A BBC investigation estimates that around $23bn (£11.75bn) may have been lost, stolen or just not properly accounted for in Iraq. A US gagging order is preventing discussion of the allegations. The order applies to 70 court cases against some of the top US companies. In the run-up to the invasion, one of the most senior officials in charge of procurement in the Pentagon objected to a contract potentially worth $7bn that was given to Halliburton, a Texan company which used to be run by Dick Cheney before he became vice-president.

    Unusually only Halliburton got to bid – and won.

    I grew up in the Chicago area during Daley the Elders regime. There were books written about the corruption in Cook County – Politicians, friends and families who cashed in on various sweet heart deals.

    Nothing new here. Howard Zinn said, ” The whole Iran-contra affair became a perfect example of the double line of defense of the American Establishment. The first defense is to deny the truth. If exposed, the second defense is to investigate, but not too much; the press will publicize, but they will not get to the heart of the matter”.

    Congress will probably have a show boat investigation of the this one “tree” but the forest of political – business relations will be off limits.

  17. Monotonou,

    “Congress will probably have a show boat investigation of this one “tree” but the forest of political – business relations will be off limits.”

    You’re right. It’s been a 50-year war against DEMOCRACY and our only defense and ANSWER is limited to an offer to debate. So we let’em get away with “MURDER.” What a shameful disaster.

  18. In 2011 I wrote a book entitled, “Killing the Dream: America’s Flirtation With Third-World Status”. In it, I described similar events and people that we see in this blatant and idiotic corruption. The Whitefish thing is just so typical of third-world corruption as to be laughable in its lack of imagination.

    But, as Trump said on the campaign trail, he could shoot somebody in the middle of 5th Avenue and wouldn’t lose any votes. He knew his audience, the damned fools who think he is the strong father figure they lacked in their miserable lives. He thinks he can get away with murder, and I don’t doubt it’ll come to that.

    This Congress, or, more precisely, the Republicans in this Congress are so completely corrupt that they will let us slide into the swamp of despotic corruption without blinking. It is what the super-rich and the corporatists want. This situation is ALSO typical of third-world dictatorships. Trump wants to be the dictator and the Republicans are letting him become one. Kevin Nunes of California is the perfect example of the toady who longs to be the dictator’s shoe-shine boy.

    Don’t forget the egregious Scott Pruitt who is hard at work selling off our natural resources, removing all constraints on corporate pollution of our environment and totally ignoring any positive initiatives that preserves our natural beauty. It’s all about profits for corporate/banking America with guys like this.

    Have you listened to Ben Carson try to speak lately? I still wonder how this guy managed to con his way through medical school. Maybe he got into the drug cabinet after he became famous.

    Typical of Trump picks for cabinet posts, though, but none will be more damaging to the people of our country than Betsy DeVos. She will destroy public education and help turn us into a theocratic dictatorship. After all, how can we let all those public dollars go to waste when there are so many who could profit from them?

  19. Vernon,

    “In 2011 I wrote a book entitled, “Killing the Dream: America’s Flirtation With Third-World Status”.

    Terrific book, I’ve read it.

  20. Still suffering from outrage fatigue. Every freaking day it is something else to scream about and I have no voice at all.

  21. AgingLGrl,

    “……I have no voice at all.”

    One big reason, you don’t have a voice is because of the DECEIT operating within the so-called LEADING pro-democracy NGO’s, media, and political party. Because of their overwhelming presence, legitimate voices are, for the most part, muted, resulting in the LOSS OF REAL HOPE which is the only weapon we have left at this point in time.

    Cleaning up this mess should be our #1 priority.

  22. lAgingLGrl – You do have a voice and your using it and good for you! This is not time for despair; this is the time to resist ever more boldly if we are going to save our democracy from the rich ruffian class. Hang tough!

  23. Thanks…you guys are great. I barely have a voice because I’ve had the flu/cold/allergies all week! sigh. lol

    But the situation we are in is that we, the voters, have no voice anymore. The rich, the powerful, the PACs, they have the resources to counter the tide of what is best for this country. I’m not giving up!

  24. When Republican Senators who voted to pass Trump’s tax cutse for the wealthy stand before the public and national TV and say the bill is a bad one, that parts of it should be trashed but they passed it to appear to have party unity – we cannot blame the sitting cabinet members. Remember this same Congress approved each and every on of those cabinet members and their replacements as the swinging door to the White House continues to revolve.

    Do any of the Trump or Republican voters recognize the loud and clear “F*+K YOU” message sent to them and will they go to the polls and reelect them? My guess is they will because they do not even recognize it is no longer the Republican party they are voting for. They haven’t yet lost their health care, seen their taxes raised, Social Security and Disability check amounts cut while Medicare costs increase. We are all waiting for this to take effect; those Trump and Republican supporters don’t realize they are on the list with us.

  25. AgingLGrl,

    “I’m not giving up!”

    We know that. After all these months we, know you well enough. Just keep in mind the eloquent words of Winston Churchill…”Now is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

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