A former board member of the Connecticut Port Authority will pay $18,500 in fines related to allegations that he used his position to benefit a maritime company which he co-founded, the Office of State Ethics announced Friday.
In a settlement with ethics officials, Henry W. Juan, III, will pay the fine to resolve claims he violated ethics codes for both public officials and lobbyists.
Juan served as a member of the governing board of the CPA from March 2016 through February of 2018. During that time, he co-founded a company called Seabury Maritime and, according to the ethics board, attempted to influence the CPA for the benefit of Seabury.
The $18,500 fine is among the highest settlements ever issued by the ethics office, according to a Friday press release. Peter Lewandowski, executive director of the ethics office, said that public officials misusing their offices led to the board’s creation in 1977.
“Now, nearly 50 years later, we are continuing this important work by ensuring that officials are not leveraging their position or knowledge for personal financial gain,” Lewandowski said. “As famously stated, a public office is a public trust. In enforcing state ethics laws, the Office of State Ethics sends a clear message that there is no tolerance for gamesmanship in state government.”
Lewandowski thanked the attorney general’s office for assisting the ethics agency in reaching an agreement. The state was ready to prove at a hearing that Juan should have been registered as a lobbyist for his efforts to benefit the company he co-founded, the ethics office said in the press release.
According to his positions outlined in the settlement, Juan recalled receiving no formal training on state ethics policies and believed that his affiliation with Seabury was permissible so long as he disclosed it to the board and recused himself from decisions that involved the company.
Juan did not admit to any wrongdoing or violation of any law when he entered the agreement, according to the settlement.
“The Respondent is entering into this Settlement Agreement for the purpose of avoiding the expense and uncertainty of litigation,” the settlement read.
However, the state believed Juan used his access to the port authority in an effort to influence the quasi-public agency’s Request for Proposal decisions and its efforts to renovate the State Pier in New London for the benefit of Seabury Maritime. He also sought to negotiate future payments for the company, according to the settlement.
The agreement is not the first time that state ethics officials have scrutinized Seabury Maritime’s involvement with the Connecticut Port Authority. Last year, the ethics office fined the company for providing CPA board members and staff with more than $3,100 in gifts including National Hockey League tickets and an overnight stay at a private Greenwich country club.