One week after taking office, Vermont Governor Phil Scott held a press conference this morning to discuss the sale of his interest in a business that contracts with the state.
Phil Scott’s part-ownership of DuBois Construction was an issue in the gubernatorial campaign. He promised he would sell his share if elected to the state’s top office.
Inaugurated last Thursday, the new Republican governor met with reporters to confirm that he had completed the sale of his holding in the company. He is selling his half back to the company for $2.5 million at 3 percent interest over 15 years. The deal was finalized on December 30th. “Dubois Construction was a general contractor so most of the assets of the business were tied up in equipment and land and buildings. Some would say well why not if you're getting out of the business why not write a check for two and a half million dollars and be done with this. Well there's no cash in the business. It's all in assets. And for the business to write me a check for two and a half million dollars would have required liquidation of the business which would have meant many employees who have been there for 30, 40, 50 years would no longer have a job. And I just thought the best thing to do was to finance my sale of the business.”
Scott described his long association with the construction company. He was about 16 when his mother married one of the former co-owners. Scott worked summers at the company when he went to college. He had the opportunity to return full-time after he graduated and later became a partner, which he’s been for 30 years. Despite the past affiliation he says all ties have been terminated except that DuBois Construction now owes him money. “Scott: I don't have anything to do with the management.”
Reporter: “Not about management but do you have a financial interest in DuBois construction?”
Scott: “Well they will be paying me as they would any financial institution.”
Reporter: “And just to be crystal clear you are acknowledging that you do retain under this arrangement a financial interest in DuBois construction.”
Scott: “DuBois Construction owes me money. Yes. But I'm not going to live or die over getting paid. Money isn't everything to me. I came into that business with nothing. If I left that business with nothing I could live with the consequences.”
Scott says he wants to assure transparency and is committed to strict adherence to Vermont’s Administration Bulletin 3-point-5 in this and any future actions. The governor’s counsel Jaye Pershing Johnson explains that the bulletin outlines the rules for state contracting. “It provides for a fair and open competitive process for all service contracts. The intent is to guard against favoritism and fraud. It provides all vendors seeking to do business with the state a level playing field. And decisions are made with respect to service contracts in the best interest of the state. So the processes set out in Bulletin 3.5 are designed to be transparent. They're designed to make those doing selections of contractors accountable.”
The governor is also tasking key departments to review the state contracting process. ““I have directed the Secretary of Administration to order strict adherence to Bulletin 3.5 to ensure more uniform application of this bulletin. And I believe we need to have more transparency in order to restore the faith and trust lost by some with state government and any government at all. So I've also directed the Department of Finance and Management to look into the feasibility of enhancing its reporting. And this is a review we would undertake regardless of my former company.”
According to the governor’s counsel, the state Attorney General, a Democrat, must approve all contracts over $25,000.
Governor Scott said the construction company is valued at about $5 million.