According to the Associated Press, two major political backers of U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry were awarded a very lucrative 50-year oil and gas from Ukraine’s government despite the fact that their bid came in MILLIONS of dollars less than other popular suitors for the deal. The contract was reportedly given to Perry’s political allies after he suggested their names to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky in May.
Perry attended the inauguration of Zelensky early this year and reportedly gave him a list of four individuals he thought would be appropriate to advise Ukraine on energy matters and one of the names on that list was Michael Bleyzer. Bleyzer, of Perry’s home state of Texas, is a Ukrainian-American investor and longtime backer of Perry’s political career.
After submitting a bid that was lower than the competition to drill at a huge government-controlled site in Ukraine known as Varvynska, Bleyzer and his partner Alex Cranberg were granted the contract. Both Bleyzer and Cranberg have long supported Rick Perry and his political ambitions. Cranberg is known as a GOP “mega-donor” who famously let Perry use his luxury private jet during the 2012 presidential campaign.
Bleyzer said in a statement to the AP that any conversations Perry may have had with the Ukrainian government “did not play any role in Ukrainian Energy winning its bid.” He said that the process “will hopefully serve as an example of how the Ukrainian energy market can be opened for new investments.”
Energy Department spokesperson Shaylyn Hynes had the following statement about Perry’s involvement:
“Throughout his tenure, Secretary Perry has championed the American energy industry all over the world. As previously stated, throughout his engagements with Ukrainian officials Secretary Perry has consistently called for the modernization and reform of Kyiv’s business and energy sector in an effort to create an environment that will incentivize Western companies to do business in Ukraine.”
The statement continued, “He delivered that same message during his visit to Ukraine for the Inauguration of President Zelenskyy [sic]. What he did not do is advocate for the business interests of any one individual or company.”
Perry’s reported link to the Ukrainian gas and oil deal comes amid the impeachment inquiry surrounding President Trump’s own conversations with Ukraine’s president where he allegedly encouraged the opening of an investigation into former VP and current presidential candidate Joe Biden.
Perry is currently rejecting a House subpoena and refusing to turn over any documents pertaining to his interactions or involvement with Ukraine as part of the Trump administration’s policies.