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Consultant on New London pier project fined for ethics violations — again

City of New London

The Connecticut Office of State Ethics has issued a second $10,000 fine against a New York-based maritime company for lobbying violations.

Seabury PFRA, LLC, also known as Seabury Maritime, lobbied from 2017-2019 to gain contracts and other business from the Connecticut Port Authority, a quasi-public agency in charge of redeveloping State Pier in New London to be a hub for the offshore wind industry.

According to the state investigation, Seabury, a consultant for the port authority, spent over $3,000 in lobbying each year, which triggered a requirement for them to register their activity with the Office of State Ethics. The company also did not complete any financial disclosure as required.

Seabury compensated “employees, members and/or agents” to lobby the Connecticut Port Authority, including a member of the port authority Board of Directors. That individual was not identified in the signed consent order dated May 18, 2023.

“[Seabury] believes that the individual who was a Seabury member and employee, and who was also a member of the CPA Board of Directors refrained from voting as a [board member] on the approval of contracts that involved Seabury, following his receipt of advice from CPA counsel,” Dena Castricone, chair of the Citizen’s Ethics Advisory Board in the Office of State Ethics, wrote in the consent order.

The company faced previous ethical violations for providing illegal gifts to staff and board members of the port authority, which they accepted.

Andrew Lavigne, then manager for business development and special projects, was fined $750 by the Office of State Ethics and suspended from work for two days. Vice chairman Donald Frost was removed from the Authority’s Board of Directors.

In the latest penalty, Seabury did not admit wrongdoing and by agreeing to pay the fine, will avoid a legal hearing on the matter. The company also said it did not keep records of the alleged lobbying activities.

“The respondent states that it did not consider the activities outlined in the complaint to be ‘lobbying,’ but rather normal business activity including promotion of [Seabury’s] services to an entity that could benefit from those services,” Castricone wrote.

Seabury is also being investigated by the state Attorney General’s Office over a $500,000 success fee they were paid by the port authority for finding Gateway, the new harbor management company for State Pier in New London.

An award-winning freelance reporter/host for WSHU, Brian lives in southeastern Connecticut and covers stories for WSHU across the Eastern side of the state.