The Connecticut Office of State Ethics (OSE) reached one of its largest settlements ever with former Connecticut Port Authority (CPA) board member Henry Juan over an alleged kickback scheme, in which Juan allegedly used his status on the CPA board to funnel work to a company he co-founded, Seabury Maritime.
This is the latest in a long-running string of ethical, legal and financial issues involving state government, the Connecticut Port Authority, and its efforts to redevelop the State Pier into a hub for offshore wind development.
According to OSE, the $18,500 settlement is one of the largest the state has ever reached and was made to resolve the allegations against Juan that he “violated both the Code of Ethics for Public Officials and the Code of Ethics for lobbyists.”
According to the state’s allegations, Juan used his position on the CPA from 2016 to 2018 to help steer work contracts toward Seabury Maritime. Seabury was approved by the CPA board to review responses to the CPA’s requests for qualifications and to develop and review requests for proposals submitted to redevelop the State Pier.
Upon completion of that work, Seabury received a “success fee” of $523,000 in addition to the $700,000 it was paid for the work.
Juan acknowledged that he had a conflict of interest between his service on CPA and his “substantial involvement with Seabury Maritime while the company sought to do business with the CPA,” the OSE press release says.
Although Juan does not admit liability, the state was prepared to prove its case that Juan influenced the CPA to benefit Seabury and that he also violated lobbyist laws by not registering as a lobbyist in 2017 and 2018 “for his paid efforts to influence the administrative decisions of the CPA on behalf of his employer, Seabury Maritime.”
This is the second such payout resulting from Seabury’s efforts to secure contracts with the CPA. In July of 2022, Seabury was ordered to pay a $10,000 fine for giving gifts, including NHL tickets, to CPA board members. One board member was also fined for accepting the gifts and another was removed from the CPA board.
Seabury’s involvement with the State Pier project and the CPA also came under the scrutiny of the State Contracting Standards Board, which found the CPA likely did not have statutory authority to enter into the Harbor Development Agreement, although the CPA disputed that finding.
The State Pier project under the purview of the CPA, has faced multiple ethical and financial issues.
The cost of the project, initially estimated at $93 million, has ballooned to over $300 million; CPA board chair Bonnie Reemsnyder resigned over ethical issues surrounding payments made to her daughter for photographs and CPA executive director Evan Matthews also resigned; the CPA was cited by Connecticut state auditors for excessive travel spending for food and drink and, finally, Office of Policy and Management deputy secretary Kosta Diamantis, who was put in charge of overseeing construction projects, including the State Pier, resigned while under investigation by the federal government.
The offshore wind project known as Revolution Wind, is a joint venture between electric giant Eversource and the Danish company Orsted, However, Eversource recently announced that it will be selling off its stake in offshore wind to focus more on their land-based operations.
“In enforcing state ethics laws, the Office of State Ethics sends a clear message that there is no tolerance for gamesmanship in state government,” OSE Executive Director Peter Lewandowski said in the press release.
Juan is now president of Strategic Rail Capital, a firm specializing in investment banking for companies “engaged in heavy freight and logistics,” based in Greenwich