Some of you may recall an article I wrote back in January, detailing how FEMA discovered that Puerto Rico’s state-owned utility, PREPA, was stealing and hoarding reconstruction supplies in a hidden warehouse. Other stories have trickled out from Puerto Rico during the reconstruction process which have suggested the reconstruction process is highly politicized and corrupt.
Finally, DC seems to have taken notice and is taking action… maybe:
The U.S. House Natural Resources Committee on Monday issued a letter seeking answers to allegations of corruption at Puerto Rico’s beleaguered electric utility, including reports that some officials accepted bribes to restore power to exotic dance clubs ahead of schedule.
The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) has failed to restore power fully to the U.S. commonwealth’s 3.4 million residents since Hurricane Maria in late September knocked out power to the entire island, caused a complete collapse of the utility’s already decrepit electric infrastructure and killed dozens of people. As of early March, 12.5 percent of PREPA’s customers still did not have electricity, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
The letter said that as part of the committee’s oversight of Puerto Rico’s recover, it was reviewing “multiple allegations of corruption and mismanagement” of PREPA’s power restoration efforts.
“Much of the reported corruption concerns PREPA officials accepting or demanding bribes to restore power to residences and businesses,” said the letter, which was addressed to PREPA’s interim executive director, Justo Gonzalez.
PREPA officials allegedly were paid $5,000 and provided free entry tickets worth $1,000 apiece to restore power to exotic dance clubs ahead of schedule.
While it’s good there is a probe by House Republicans going on, to really have teeth, they are going to have to recommend prosecution of these criminals. The question is, are they actually going to do so?