OLD LYME – In a letter to the committee submitted in lieu of appearing at a hearing of the state legislature’s Transportation Committee, Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder responded to critics of her tenure as finance chair and brief tenure as board chair of the Connecticut Port Authority.
Reemsnyder asserted her innocence of any wrongdoing in a strongly worded statement.
“I am sorry if anyone has been disappointed by or upset over the media accounts of this matter, but can assure you and the citizens of this state that I have not behaved improperly in this instance or otherwise over my 16 years of public service.”
Answering newspaper reports concerning the purchase of her daughter’s artwork to decorate port authority offices, Reemsnyder stated unequivocally that “I had no involvement in any aspect of the sale, including no role in the initial decision, negotiations, payment, bookkeeping, or accounting for the transaction, and I did not benefit in any way financially from the transaction.”
She further explained her absence at the mid-August hearing as a matter of “pre-existing business commitments incident to my job as First Selectwoman of Old Lyme, Connecticut.”
Reemsnyder could not be reached for comment Wednesday morning, but an employee at her office clarified to CT Examiner staff that the first selectwoman was “in and out of the office,” on the day of the hearing, but had nothing particular scheduled.
Roughly 80 lawmakers, state officials and members of the press gathered on Tuesday for hearings that lasted more than six hours.
Without Reemsnyder, prior chair Scott Bates, or Executive Director Evan Matthews – currently on paid leave – appearing at the hearing to answer questions directly, it was difficult to understand the issues facing the port authority, said State Rep. Laura Devlin (R-Fairfield), ranking member on the committee.
Devlin called the findings of the public auditors “quite stunning” because “there were no financial controls in place whatsoever” and criticized the leadership of the board as setting the tone for the poor decisions of the agency.
State Sen. Carlo Leone (D-Stamford), co-chair of the Transportation Committee, emphasized that “the goal is to be measured, deliberate, and thoughtful so that we know how to act going forward. As mentioned, we are not here on a witch hunt, we are here to ask questions and follow the facts wherever they may lead,”