Seabury Maritime, a New York consulting and investment firm, will pay $10,000 in ethics fines for providing Connecticut Port Authority board members and employees with gifts valued at more than $3,100, according to an order from the Office of State Ethics.
In a six-page consent order issued Tuesday, the office found that Seabury provided a series of gifts to CPA employees and board members while doing business or seeking to do business with the authority in 2017 and 2019.
In a press release, Peter Lewandowski, executive director of the Office of State Ethics, said the agency would “forcefully prosecute” violations of ethics rules regarding gifting.
State law bars anyone who is doing business or trying to do business with state employees or public officials from giving them gifts. As a quasi-public agency, those rules apply to members of the Connecticut Port Authority.
“Private companies that seek to engage state and quasi-public agencies for contracts must understand that fostering good will with state officials and employees cannot involve provision of impermissible gifts,” Lewandowski said.
The gifts included two tickets to a National Hockey League game in Boston on May 9, 2019, each valued at more than $675, and an overnight stay for a CPA employee and their spouse at a private Greenwich country club in 2017. The overnight room at the club was worth more than $200 while the tab for food and drinks at the club for the couple and another CPA board member totaled more than $300.
In another instance, the company paid for a CPA employee and their spouse to attend a fundraiser where they received food, drinks, and a leather handbag collectively valued at more than $300.
The employees who received these gifts were not identified in the press release. In a statement issued through its manager of business development, the Connecticut Port Authority said incidents detailed in the order occurred under the authority’s prior leadership. Since late 2019, the port authority had overhauled its procedures, according to the statement.
“[T]the Authority updated its ethics policies and all employees and board members now receive annual ethics training and certifications. Contractors are similarly made aware of the proper protocols,” the statement read. “We learned today of this outcome of the Office of State Ethics’ investigation into these matters from three plus years ago and, based on their efforts to hold individuals and companies accountable, Authority stakeholders should be reassured that matters from the past will be thoroughly and transparently investigated.”
According to the press release, Seabury cooperated with the investigation conducted by the Office of State Ethics and admitted the violations included in the consent order. The company will pay $2,500 for violations related to gifts in 2017 and $7,500 for 2019 violations.