NEW LONDON — In a campaign stop at City Plaza Thursday morning, Republican Bob Stefanowski took aim at the Connecticut Port Authority and the $150 million increase in State Pier costs — calling it a “corruption tax” by Gov. Ned Lamont. Stefanowski also pushed for the resignation of former Port Authority Chair Scott Bates, who currently serves as Deputy Secretary of the State.
“This offshore pier was supposed to cost $93 million. Everybody agreed — Ørsted agreed, Eversource agreed, Kostas Diamantis agreed, Governor Lamont agreed — let’s go do it. $93 million. You know where it is today? $242 million. That’s 250% over budget,” said Stefanowski, pointing to signage showing the $150 million gap.
Stefanowski called the $150 million increase “disgusting,” suggesting that the money could have been better used to improve education or fill a 400-officer shortfall in the ranks of Connecticut State Troopers. He was joined at the campaign event by Laura Devlin, his running mate for lieutenant governor.
“I don’t blame the Governor. He doesn’t have the experience. He ran a small cable company. He’s never done a multimillion deal,” Stefanowski said. “You know what I would have done if I was here? I would have sat down Eversource and Ørsted, and said, ‘Let’s have a little talk here, boys and girls. We all got this thing wrong.’”
Jake Lewis, a Lamont campaign spokesman, responded to Stefanowski’s comments in an email to CT Examiner on Thursday afternoon.
“With his campaign in chaos, Bob Stefanowski is again stooping to desperate attacks that have no basis in reality. The facts speak for themselves, within six months of taking office Governor Lamont installed new leadership and created strict controls to further improve accountability and transparency,” said Lewis.
At the event, Stefanowski said that as governor, rather than asking Connecticut taxpayers to pick up 100 percent of the mistake, he would have told Eversource and Ørsted to pick up the entire $150 million because they provided the original $93 million estimate.
“And if you don’t, we’re gonna find you two more partners. That’s the difference between a business leader and a guy who ran a small cable company who could care less about the taxpayers of Connecticut,” he said.
Stefanowski said the state should restructure the offshore wind deal. And since Eversource is exiting the partnership, he would negotiate with Ørsted.
“I did it all the time in the corporate world… If I were governor, I’m representing the state of Connecticut — I cannot go to these taxpayers and say we’re gonna pick up 100% of the overrun when it wasn’t their fault. Let’s have a tough discussion about how we’re going to restructure this. Governor Lamont doesn’t like tough discussions — he likes to float around a little bit…”
He called it “classic political patronage” that Scott Bates, former chair of the port Authority and now Deputy Secretary of the State, was “still being paid by the taxpayers of Connecticut.”
Stefanowski said that if he were governor, Bates “would be out tomorrow.”
“It gets back to leadership… Leadership is not taking somebody who failed at his first job cost the state of Connecticut $150 million and put them in another plus job $150 million, and put them in another six figure plus job,” he said.
He questioned why Bates was not promoted into Denise Merrill’s position when she retired.
“Because he’s not great, and it doesn’t reflect on him — this reflects directly on the Governor of Connecticut … and doing the right thing rather than running a campaign based on lies.”
Stefanowski said another example of Lamont’s “corruption tax” was the FBI investigation of the Lamont administration for “tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars overspent on school construction.”
Other examples, he said, were that Lamont gave $26 million to Sema4, a Stamford-based laboratory that his wife had invested in. A third example was in West Haven where, he said, Mayor Nancy Rossi is still in office, after “over a million dollars of COVID money —our money — that was used to buy poker chips and marching bands.”
Stefanowski said that Lamont had raised taxes by $6 billion on everything from meals to movie downloads to plastic bags – adding what he said was as much as $1,000 per household in Connecticut.
Stefanowski took questions after remarks from Devlin and State Sen. Kevin Kelly, R-Stratford.
Kevin Blacker, a resident and a vocal critic of the State Pier project who attended the event, asked Stefanowski how the voters of Connecticut could have faith in the integrity of elections when Scott Bates is responsible for overseeing elections.
Stefanowski said it was up to the Secretary of the State to ensure fair elections, but that Bates should leave his position.
“Personally, to have somebody that we know did some bad things here be moved to another nice job — to your point in the Secretary of State office — you gotta believe he owns some debt of gratitude to the Governor and others. I do think it’s a conflict of interest. I do think he should resign.”
In his email to CT Examiner, Lewis said that “today’s sideshow from Stefanowski is “just the the latest attempt” to distract from his own “flailing” campaign.
“While Governor Lamont was working for Connecticut– delivering strong, consistent job growth and $650 million in tax cuts for working people– Stefanowksi was raking it in consulting for secret clients–that he refuses to reveal. The people of Connecticut know Gov. Lamont works for them– none of us know whose payroll Bob Stefanowski is really on,” Lewis said.
Also attending the event were: state Rep. Holly Cheeseman, R-East Lyme, state Sen. Heather Somers, R-Groton, state Sen. Henri Martin, R-Bristol, and state Rep. Devin Carney, R-Old Lyme.