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Details of Connecticut’s newest ethics snafu remain secret  

Credit:  By Kevin Rennie | Hartford Courant | Jul 09, 2022 | www.courant.com ~~

Trouble shrouded in mystery continues to infest the Connecticut Port Authority. The Office of State Ethics reached an agreement with CPA contractor Seabury Maritime, which will pay $10,000 for giving impermissible and unreported gifts to two CPA employees and a board member.

In 2017 and 2019, Seabury Maritime provided a variety of gifts to the employees and board member, all unnamed. They included attendance at a college fundraising event in New York. “CPA Employee One” and “CPA Employee One’s spouse” (as they are referred to in the consent agreement) enjoyed food, drinks and swag referred to as “a leather personal accessory, and other items, which were altogether valued at or more than $300.”

The same employee and his or her spouse (these agreements are carefully worded to give few clues) enjoyed an overnight stay “at a private country club in Greenwich.” The $200 stay was accompanied by $300 in food and drinks for the employee, spouse and CPA board member.

Employee One and spouse attended another college fundraiser in New York in 2019. This time the swag included a leather handbag. Nine days later Employee One and Employee Two enjoyed tickets from Seabury worth $675 each to attend a National Hockey League game in Boston. The contractor also paid, of course, for food and drinks at the game.

Since Seabury Maritime was doing business with the CPA, a quasi-public agency, and was hoping to do more, “gifts” feels like a euphemism. The unsavory saga at the state’s only deep water port has been turned into a swamp of muck. No one will name the employees or board member.

Attorney General William Tong, The Day of New London newspaper’s David Collins reported, continues to investigate a 2020 “success fee” of $523,000 paid by CPA to Seabury. There’s no indication when Tong will unveil the details of his investigation, but it seems unlikely to enjoy the disinfecting effects of sunlight before November’s election.

Now that the ethics agreement is public, the CPA ought to provide details, including the names of the people who took the gifts. Are the employees still working at the CPA? Who is the member of the board? Did any of them play a role, even a peripheral one, in Seabury’s dealings with the troubled CPA?

The questions are not complicated, but the answers may cause embarrassment.

The CPA has been an expensive mess. Its State Pier project began as a $93 million plan to transform the New London port into a staging area for utility companies to construct offshore wind turbines to generate electricity. The project has exploded to $235 million in several alarming increments.

Gov. Ned Lamont declared in February 2020 that he had brought harmony to the State Pier project. Lamont delegated authority to top budget advisor Kostantinos Diamantis. The governor made the speeches and “Kosta’s got to deliver the goods,” a jolly Lamont announced to an array of nodding heads with smiling faces.

Diamantis is the name that Lamont dares not speak these days. Part of that is due to a federal investigation into the State Pier project and the state’s school construction grants program, according to subpoenas served on Lamont’s administration.

Lamont allowed the former deputy budget director to continue to run the school construction financing program when he moved to the budget office in late 2019. Diamantis was fired last fall.

Secrecy continues to retain its place as the highest virtue in Lamont’s administration. A governor who values darkness over light will not begin letting the public in four months before voters decide whether to give him a second term.

We do know that from January 2016 to June 2019, Scott Bates was chairman of the CPA. He resigned as a board member in August 2019, accompanied by lavish praise from Lamont. The Stonington Democrat continues serve as the deputy secretary of the state, the office that oversees the administration of elections.

Lamont ought to insist on a public accounting of what Bates knew, if anything, of the prohibited gift giving by a contractor to CPA employees and a board member, when he knew it, and what he did about it.

Voters and candidates deserve to know – now.

Kevin F. Rennie of South Windsor is a lawyer and a former Republican state senator and representative.

Source:  By Kevin Rennie | Hartford Courant | Jul 09, 2022 | www.courant.com

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

The copyright of this article resides with the author or publisher indicated. As part of its noncommercial effort to present the environmental, social, scientific, and economic issues of large-scale wind power development to a global audience seeking such information, National Wind Watch endeavors to observe “fair use” as provided for in section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law and similar “fair dealing” provisions of the copyright laws of other nations. Send requests to excerpt, general inquiries, and comments via e-mail.

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