MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - Vermont Gov. Phil Scott’s ties to a construction company he once co-owned are a “conflict of interest” because the firm is continuing to do business with the state, the Vermont Ethics Commission found.
In an opinion issued Tuesday, the commission found that Scott, a Republican, violated the code of ethics because he’s still a creditor of Dubois Construction.
“The public official has a conflict of interest because he is financially intertwined as a creditor, who has an ongoing financial interest in a company that contract(s) with the state, which the public official as governor is the chief executive officer,” the opinion said.
Scott sold his half share of Dubois back to the company and financed the deal around the time he took office in early 2017. He receives $75,000 in interest payments annually.
In announcing the deal around the time he took office, Scott said that DuBois would make payments to him over 15 years. At the time the company had an estimated value of about $5 million, mostly for earth-moving equipment, land and buildings.
Under Vermont’s code of ethics, public officials are barred from accepting monetary gifts from companies “doing business with the state.” Last year, Dubois Construction won a $250,000 contract from the state.
Paul Burns, the executive director of the Vermont Public Interest Research Group, which filed the complaint that spurred the report, told Vermont Public Radio he had no reason to believe Scott used his position as governor to enrich DuBois.
“It is situations like that that cause people to lose faith in government, if you believe that somebody who is in a position of authority within the government could be benefiting financially from their position.”
Scott’s spokeswoman Rebecca Kelley said Scott’s willingness to personally finance the loan was the only way to transfer ownership “without forcing the company to shutter its doors or lay off employees.”
She said he’s “not involved in the business in any way.”
Information from: WVPS-FM, http://www.vpr.net
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