Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical Left and Islamic terrorism.
By September 2018, despite billions of dollars in aid, Puerto Rico was still a mess. By August, FEMA had stopped paying for the nearly 2,500 displaced Puerto Ricans who had been living in hotels after Hurricane Maria had wrecked their homes. But the FEMA times were good at Casino Del Mar.
San Juan’s Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz had become a CNN celeb by wearing a, “Help Us We Are Dying” t-shirt. But no one was dying at the luxury resort in San Juan with its 15,000 square feet of gaming tables and its seven restaurants. Except maybe some especially unlucky gamblers. Its blue neon wave walls were shimmering, the machines were jingling and there were some high rollers at the tables.
One of those high rollers was a FEMA administrator.
Ahsha Nateef Tribble’s job had been to get Puerto Rico working again. That’s why Ahsha had been appointed FEMA’s Power Sector Chief and Infrastructure Chief for Recovery.
And she was certainly helping one part of Puerto Rico recover.
At Casino Del Mar, Donald Keith Ellison, the former president of Cobra Acquisitions, who has been indicted alongside Tribble, was seen in surveillance footage picking up $3,000 worth of casino chips. The indictment alleges that Tribble and Ellison were together at the gambling tables and the cash cage.
Tribble and Ellison were gambling in more ways than one. The stakes would have easily broken the Casino Del Mar. Ellison’s Cobra had received $1.8 billion in federal contracts to restore Puerto Rico’s power grid. And Tribble had the authority to dispense $200 million in public assistance projects.
What was a mere $3,000 compared to the millions and billions that they were already playing with?
The indictments of Tribble and Ellison ended the game. The dice have come up snake eyes and the croupier is taking back all the chips. But the game of profiting from catastrophe was a fun one.
At Casino Del Mar, Ahsha Nateef Tribble was enjoying the good life at the top of a meteoric career. But while her annual salary of $149,000 placed her among the top 10% of employees at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), it wasn’t enough to buy her everything she wanted.
And that’s what Ellison was allegedly doing by, in the language of the indictment, promising, offering and giving “Ahsha Nateef Tribble a stream of things of value, including airfare, ground transportation, helicopter fights, hotel rooms, meals, entertainment expenses.” $149,000 a year only goes so far.
Not that Ahsha had anything to complain about. After earning a BS in Math from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, an MS in Meteorology from Florida State, she had traveled out of state to the University of Oklahoma for a PhD in Meteorology. And the year she graduated she was somehow already the Technical Chief of Staff at the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Commerce at NOAA.
Two years after graduating, she was the Executive Officer at the NOAA National Hurricane Center.
Five years after graduation, she was the Chief of the Climate Sciences Division for NOAA’s National Weather Service.
With that kind of resume, Ahsha must have been brilliant. But her indictment doesn’t suggest a genius. Even an evil genius would have done a better job of cashing in than hotels, a casino and a copter.
There is, unfortunately, another explanation.
And it’s why the blame for the Puerto Rico mess falls squarely on the Obama administration.
Under Obama, the former Florida girl was in D.C. as a senior policy advisor coordinating with the White House. Obama’s White House then put her on staff as a director at the National Security Council.
Ahsha Nateef Tribble became Obama’s Senior Director for Response and even served as an interim Deputy Homeland Security Advisor.
In the waning days of the Obama regime, Ahsha was appointed a Deputy Regional Administrator at FEMA. Either Ahsha had guessed correctly that the next administration would not have the word ‘Clinton’ in it or she didn’t have the right connections. But she had landed safely. And someone had decided that with her impressive resume, she would be perfect for tackling Puerto Rico’s power crisis.
Hadn’t she served as a senior advisor to Obama’s Secretary of Energy?
And, according to her FEMA bio, “led or supported White House response coordination and operational policy for major disasters including Hurricanes Sandy and Irene.”
There was just one problem.
The Institute for Diversity and Inclusion in Emergency. Disaster relief needs competence, not diversity. But FEMA, like every other part of the government, had gone mad for diversity without ever recovering. For Black History Month, its Diversity and Inclusion unit had promoted a livestream of a transgender panel from the U.S. Air Force Academy. FEMA might not be very competent at managing disasters, but it was great at promoting random lefty social agendas and spending taxpayer money.
Ahsha was the daughter of Israel Tribble Jr, an affirmative action advocate who claimed that the education system pandered to European elitism and was unsuited for those who were “dark or different”. The names of his children reflected the academic’s belief in his own form of Afrocentric Egyptology. In Puerto Rico, affirmative action ran into a wall of corruption and human misery.
A casino in San Juan was a long way from Ahsha’s glory days of traveling to disaster sites with Obama and Biden. Or representing the United States at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
But there were still opportunities here. And she allegedly knew how to take them.
Puerto Rico was a crisis. And the thing to do with a crisis was play it up and then cash in. And Ahsha Nateef Tribble was allegedly influencing the payments going to her new friend’s company.
While contracts in the hundreds of millions of dollars were dispensed, she enjoyed the little things, a helicopter ride, a hotel room, and a fun time in a casino. Also riding the Puerto Rico gravy train was Jovanda Patterson, another FEMA employee and a good friend of Ahsha’s, who got a job with Ellison.
“Thank you both for My day will be great when I get a picture of Ahsha getting her treatment today please,” Jovanda had emailed Ellison and Ahsha.
Times were still hard in parts of Puerto Rico, but there were other priorities for FEMA’s best.
“I’m on it. I will get her down there at 1pm,” Ellison replied.
You didn’t have to be in a disaster area to get personal service like that. Just tasked with managing one.
A Twitter account with Jovanda Patterson’s name and tweets about FEMA and Puerto Rico, includes a retweet of anti-American racist activist Colin Kaepernick, Barack Obama and Senator Kamala Harris.
Why was Hurricane Maria so devastating?
The answer has little to do with President Trump and a great deal to do with the existing corruption by local officials in Puerto Rico, which has already resulted in multiple arrests, and within FEMA.
It was one of Obama’s NSC staffers who had traveled with him and with Biden, who allegedly conspired to rob taxpayers and to abuse money meant to help Puerto Ricans.
What happened in Puerto Rico is the same thing that happens in Chicago, Detroit and Baltimore.
In another hurricane procurement scandal, FEMA gave Tiffany Brown a $156 million contract to serve 30 million meals to hurricane victims. Brown’s company had no employees and no experience in large-scale disaster relief. And was not able to actually provide the meals. But “Dr. Brown” does boast that her Tribute Contracting LLC is a “a minority-owned government consulting firm”.
The government can help people. Or it can help itself.
It can help the minorities it claims to care about. Or it can just help the well-connected ones.
A quick walk around Newark, Los Angeles or San Juan can clue you in on who’s really being helped.
The money that’s supposed to help people never actually reaches them. But that’s fine. There’s better uses for that money. And the worse things get, the more money will be spent on not fixing the crisis.
And, if you’re lucky, you can have a fun night in a casino in San Juan where everyone is always dying.