San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz and the Montana-based energy company tasked with restoring Puerto Rico’s hurricane-ravaged electrical grid engaged in a heated Twitter feud Wednesday.
Cruz was one of several political figures who expressed concern over Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority’s recent decision to award a $300 million contract to Whitefish Energy, a small energy firm that has been funded by a major donor to President Donald Trump and has ties to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.
Cruz on Wednesday called the contract “alarming” and said it “should be voided right away” during an interview with Yahoo News.
“A proper process which is clear, transparent, legal, moral and ethical should take place,” Cruz said. “What we need is somebody that can get the job done and that has the expertise to get the job done.”
Whitefish fired back at Cruz on Twitter hours after the story was published, calling her comments “misplaced” and “demoralizing.”
“We are making progress and doing work when others are not even here,” the company said in a statement posted to Twitter.
Minutes later, Cruz, an outspoken critic of the Trump administration’s hurricane relief efforts in Puerto Rico, went off on the firm in a series of tweets.
“You think I am the only one in the world who has commented on this?” Cruz tweeted. “What is it about women having an opinion that irritates some?”
You would think I am the only one in the world that has commented on this. What is it about women having an opinion that irritates some? pic.twitter.com/XxGNLomjQy— Carmen Yulín Cruz (@CarmenYulinCruz) October 25, 2017
Congressman Luis Gutierrez (D) and Congresswoman Jennifer Gonzalez (R) have expressed concerns are they also “misplaced”. @LuisGutierrez— Carmen Yulín Cruz (@CarmenYulinCruz) October 25, 2017
Here is another “misplaced” comment from Senator Dalmau. pic.twitter.com/EqEg3C3Cdu— Carmen Yulín Cruz (@CarmenYulinCruz) October 25, 2017
If @WhitefishEnergy feels that asking for transparency is ”misplaced”, what are they afraid we will find.— Carmen Yulín Cruz (@CarmenYulinCruz) October 25, 2017
Soon after, Whitefish shot back at Cruz again, asking her if she would like the company to recall the electrical workers assigned to work on San Juan’s power lines in light of her comments.
We’ve got 44 linemen rebuilding power lines in your city & 40 more men just arrived. Do you want us to send them back or keep working?— Whitefish Energy (@WhitefishEnergy) October 25, 2017
Mayor, you called for our work to end. We do not want to leave the island without help. We’re committed to restoring power to Puerto Rico.— Whitefish Energy (@WhitefishEnergy) October 25, 2017
The company quickly came under fire over its apparent threat to pull linemen from San Juan, which also prompted another response from Cruz.
@WhitefishEnergy implies that you will not treat the City of San Juan with the diligence it deserves. Thus admitting political motivations.— Carmen Yulín Cruz (@CarmenYulinCruz) October 25, 2017
Is this a joke? Are you threatening to deny life saving measures to PR? By the way, now that you're talking, how did you get that contract? https://t.co/jcsMV7sYN6— Juliette Kayyem (@juliettekayyem) October 25, 2017
Why are you arguing with someone on Twitter rather than, you know, RESTORING POWER TO THE ISLAND?— Matt LaCasse (@mattlacasse) October 25, 2017
Ken Luce, a spokesman for Whitefish Energy, defended the company’s tweets and called the social media exchange a “very straight and candid conversation with the mayor.” He added Zinke “did not do anything on the contract.”
″[Cruz] is using her platform to reach many people, in this case, with misguided anger,” Luce told HuffPost. “She was riling people up needlessly.”
“Her anger, frustration is just pointed in the wrong direction,” he continued. “She’s playing politics with this issue, at the moment, with the one company that is [in Puerto Rico] getting stuff done.”
Representatives for both Cruz and the Department of Interior did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s requests for comment.
Whitefish Energy is located in Zinke’s hometown of Whitefish, Montana, and had just two full-time employees when back-to-back hurricanes pummeled Puerto Rico last month. It is financed in part by HBC Investments, a firm founded by Joe Colonnetta, who donated over $25,000 to Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, The Daily Beast reported on Tuesday.
On Tuesday, Rep. Luiz Gutierrez (D-Ill.) called for an investigation into the contract and questioned why it was awarded to a company “with no connection to Puerto Rico but plenty of connection to the Trump White House.”
“There is something very fishy about the Whitefish deal,” Gutierrez said in a statement. “I have been here 25 years and this doesn’t pass the smell test.”
- This article originally appeared on HuffPost.