In a move reportedly unrelated to his recently announced ethics violation, the Connecticut Port Authority has replaced Andrew Lavigne as its liaison to the Office of State Ethics.
Veronica Calvert, who recently re-joined the authority as its finance director, replaced Lavigne in the role. Calvert earlier served as the authority’s ethics liaison when she worked as the organization’s finance director in 2020 and 2021.
Lavigne, the manager of business development and special projects for the Port Authority, had served as liaison since 2021.
Board chair David Kooris said that the plan was always for Lavigne’s appointment as ethics liaison to be temporary after Calvert left the finance position, but Lavigne’s involvement in an ethics violation drew scrutiny from at least one board member at the board’s meeting on Tuesday afternoon.
David Pohorylo said it was a “shame” that the ethics violation resulted in board member Don Frost being replaced, “yet others who did accept gifts have suffered no consequences.”
In July, the Office of State Ethics fined Seabury Maritime Capital $10,000 for giving about $3,000 worth of gifts to unnamed Port Authority employees and one board member. The authority told state lawmakers that the two employees were former executive director Evan Matthews and Lavigne, and WHSU reported that the board member was Frost.
Seabury gave both Matthews and Lavigne tickets to a 2019 Boston Bruins playoff game.
Matthews was replaced as executive director in August 2020 by John Henshaw, and Frost was replaced by Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce President Larry McHugh shortly after the WSHU report.
According to Port Authority officials, Lavigne told them he had informed Seabury prior to the game that he would reimburse them for the tickets and other expenses from the night – and that he did so.
Frost, who served as vice-chair of the board, brought a wealth of experience to the troubled quasi-public as a founding member of the Connecticut Maritime Association, a lecturer and advisor at Columbia University, the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, State University of New York Maritime College, and Central Connecticut State University, as well as having experience in marine freight.
Pohorylo praised Frost for his contributions to the board, and his expertise after 60 years in the maritime industry. He said Frost was “very generous with his knowledge and time, offering both to almost anyone who asks.”
Frost told the CT Mirror that he accepted a dinner in 2017 from Seabury, and that he assumed it was related to his involvement in an effort to get funding for a maritime chair position at the SUNY Maritime College – from which Frost received a bachelor’s degree in marine transportation.
Pohorylo told the board that Frost said he would not have attended if he thought the dinner was related to Port Authority business, and that he is very upset about the dinner – which was highlighted in the ethics violation – but that he accepts and respects that State House Speaker Matt Ritter appointed McHugh to replace him on the board.
Frost’s term ended in 2020, but members are allowed to stay on until they decide to leave or someone is appointed to replace them. Pohorylo said there were times Frost wanted to leave the board because he was “not happy with what the [Port Authority] has become,” but that Pohorylo asked him to stay on.
“We really need his experience and knowledge for the good of the maritime industry,” Pohorylo said. “I don’t think this is a loss for [Frost], but a loss for [the Port Authority] and our maritime industry here in Connecticut, and the people in the state in general.”
Kooris thanked Frost for his contributions to the board, saying that his perspective as a “leading intellectual” on maritime policy will be missed.
“I have no doubt that he will continue to be thinking about our activities, and will continue to send ideas to the [Port Authority] and to the board,” Kooris said.