Port authority hired friend Of director’s wife 4 renovationsThe Day #Port_AuthorityNovember 8, 2019
In the summer of 2017, preparing to move into new offices in Old Saybrook, the Connecticut Port Authority rejected a $23,068 furnishings bid by a Groton interior designer and instead hired a Rhode Island designer who is a friend of Executive Director Evan Matthews’ wife.
The project, headed up by designer Libby Slader of Providence, friends on social media with Kristin Matthews, Evan Matthews’ wife, ended up costing over $49,000 — more than double the price quoted by a Groton designer for furniture, art, carpets and blinds.
Matthews wrote to Reemsnyder on July 21, 2017, (Page 3).
The Slader project eventually included buying mounted photographs from Reemsnyder’s daughter, although Reemsnyder recused herself from that authorization, which was made by Scott Bates, the deputy secretary of the state who was then chairman of the port authority.
Member John Johnson of New London suggested at the July 12 meeting, according to the minutes, that the office design work should go to a Connecticut firm.
The state-approved vendors all had quotes for the furniture of less than $15,000.
There was nothing in the minutes to indicate Chairman Bates weighed in on whether an out-of-state firm should be hired.
Bates did later intervene, according to emails released through a Freedom of Information request, when the budget for the Rhode Island furniture company hired by Slader topped $39,000, considerably more than the entire furniture, carpet, art and blinds budget by Ritter of Groton.
Ned Lamont, Bates got only praise from the governor when his resignation from the port authority was finally offered, weeks after the scandals broke.
Many tens of thousands of dollars were paid to friends of port authority officials, with no or questionable bidding tactics.
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