Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty’s non-disclosure agreement with a former aide grabbed headlines lately, but it’s not unique to Congress or even Connecticut state government, according to this report in Connecticut News Junkie.
In 2016, the Auditors of Public Accounts reported that many payments to employees who departed state service were in excess of $100,000 and included non-disparagement agreements known as NDAs.
The state, according to information from the Auditors of Public Accounts, has paid out more than $5.5 million to departing employees since 2011, most of whom are associated with the higher education system. Most of those payments were more than $100,000, and many offered no reason for the separation.
Since that time, the auditors criticized an NDA with Anne Noble, the former president and CEO of the Connecticut Lottery that let her to continue receiving her $212,000 annual salary until she reached the 10 years of state service necessary to receive a pension. At the same time, the state Lottery paid her $25,000 per month as a consultant.
State auditors John Geragosian and Robert Kane sent a letter last year to the comptroller’s office, outlining their concerns about the circumstances of Noble’s transition agreement and what led to her departure.
“Based on our review to date, it appears that the principal reasons for the transition agreement were to enhance Ms. Noble’s retirement benefits and to not reveal the existence of a Department of Consumer Protection investigation and pending action against Ms. Noble that would have suspended or terminated her license,” the auditors wrote.
“We estimate these benefits will cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars,” the auditors added, pointing out that the legal fees for the separation agreement cost more than $100,000.
Recently, more than $376,000 in severance payments were made to four senior level managers at Access Health CT, the state’s insurance marketplace. Those employees were all “involuntarily terminated” by outgoing CEO James Wadleigh. Each received at least six months of salary and benefits, and the separation agreement was not reviewed by any other state entity or party.
There also was a $251,000 severance payment to Eric Chatman, the former president and executive director of the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority. Chatman had only been with the quasi-public agency for two years before he was offered his full salary, plus health benefits and vacation accruals, through a three-month transition period to separation.
Among some other recommendations by the state Auditors, according to the 2016 report attached below:
-- Require State Agency Human Resources Directors to Report Known Violations of the Code of Ethics for Public Officials to the Office of State Ethics.
-- Encourage Timely Reporting by Agencies of Matters That May Be Currently Under Investigation.
-- Limit the Conditions That May be Used to Justify a Waiver from Competitive Bidding.See Attachment
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