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Whitefish Energy spent $150k lobbying Congress amid Puerto Rico scrutiny

Whitefish Energy spent $150k lobbying Congress amid Puerto Rico scrutiny
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Whitefish Energy, the tiny energy company that was offered a massive contract to repair Puerto Rico’s power grid after Hurricane Maria, spent $150,000 on lobbying after the deal began to draw scrutiny.

A lobbying report filed Friday shows that the company spent $150,000 in the fourth quarter of 2017 to hire five lobbyists to represent its interests.

OpenSecrets.org first reported on the filing.

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The company announced in October it had hired the lobbying firm Foley & Lardner. Among the lobbyists from the firm listed on the disclosure form are two former members of Congress, Dennis Cardoza and Scott Klug. Cardoza in October said he was the main lobbyist on the issue.

"Right now the effort by Foley is being done so that Whitefish has representation in DC,” Ken Luce, a spokesman for Whitefish, said in a statement in October.

“Whitefish Energy has a reputation to uphold and we felt that Foley would help us in being able to have those conversations in a productive manner,” Luce said.

The hiring of the lobbyists came after revelations emerged that the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) gave the company a $300-million contract to rebuild transmission lines on the island, even though the company had little experience doing such work. The company is also based in the hometown of Interior Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeHUD official quits amid Interior Department watchdog controversy Overnight Energy: Outdoor retailer Patagonia makes first Senate endorsements | EPA withdraws Obama uranium milling rule | NASA chief sees 'no reason' to dismiss UN climate report Interior Department sued over withholding details on trophy permits, endangered species MORE, which raised further questions from lawmakers.

Zinke denied that the connection had anything to do with the company being offered the contract. PREPA canceled the contract with Whitefish in October.

Puerto Rico's governor announced Monday that he plans to privatize the island's power system, citing a multitude of concerns about PREPA's cost to taxpayers and effectiveness.