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Date: To: From: Telephone: Subject: June 27, 2013 Distribution H. Patrick Campbell, Chief Auditor 860.757.9951 Special Review of Councilman Aponte’s Involvement With and Voting History on Matters Relating to the Spanish American Merchant’s Association
The Internal Audit Commission received a special request to review various matters relating to City Council member Aponte’s financial/operational involvement with and City Council voting history on the Spanish American Merchant’s Association (SAMA). The following are our findings to date on the matters that were raised as potential issues and concerns relating to Councilman Aponte and SAMA. According to the original complaint made to the Internal Audit Commission (IAC), a number of issues and concerns were raised regarding Councilman Aponte’s involvement with and voting on the sale of a city-owned property to SAMA. This property was subsequently subdivided and a portion of it was sold to Hartford Hospital to accommodate the construction of a new parking garage. More specifically, the complaint noted that “Councilman Aponte is the Chair of the City Council’s Planning and Economic Development (PED) Committee. In addition, Councilman Aponte was the agent for service for SAMA either just before this deal went into the City or was the agent for part of the time as the deal made its way through. If this is true that he voted either in committee or on council and indeed was the agent or was recently agent for service and did not disclose it and recuse himself, it might be an Ethics issue.” During the course of this special review, the following other potential issues and concerns were noted by the IAC and reviewed. This included: Councilman Aponte was paid for providing legal or other services to SAMA. Councilman Aponte received political contributions from SAMA officials for his most recent run for City Council. There are “other conflicts’ concerning Councilman Aponte and SAMA. The following are the results of our review relating to the issues and concerns noted above: 1. Councilman Aponte was not and appears never to have been an Agent for Service for SAMA. To verify this, we obtained information online from the Commercial Recording Division of
the Secretary of the State of Connecticut website. According to the website, the current Agent of Service for SAMA is Sydney T. Schulman. We also personally visited the State of Connecticut Secretary of State’s Office to review and obtain any additional relevant information. With the assistance of the Secretary of State’s Office staff, we were able to verify that Councilman Aponte was never an Agent of Service for SAMA. 2. We obtained and reviewed the most recent Form 990 Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax filed by SAMA for the tax year 2011. This document contained no reference to services provided by Councilman Aponte to SAMA or payments made to Councilman Aponte by SAMA for this fiscal year. 3. We reviewed all of the SEEC Form 20 Itemized Campaign Finance Disclosure Statements filed with the Town and City Clerk’s Office for Councilman Aponte’s run for City Council in 2011. We individually reviewed each contribution made to Councilman Aponte’s campaign for this election and did not note any contributions made on behalf of any of the officers or directors of SAMA. 4. In reviewing the SAMA website, we noted that Councilman Aponte was listed as a member of SAMA. In a subsequent discussion with Councilman Aponte regarding this matter, he indicated that he has not paid SAMA membership dues in seven to ten years. 5. Councilman Aponte currently chairs the City Council’s PED committee. It does not appear that the PED committee either deliberated or voted on the matter relating to the sale of 95 Park Street to SAMA. We did note that in October 2011, the City Council voted in favor of a resolution to sell 95 Park Street to SAMA. Eight Council members including Councilman Aponte voted in favor of this resolution. It should be noted that Councilman Aponte’s vote was not a determining factor in this matter. Based on the above, the IAC took action to determine the appropriate manner on how to proceed with addressing this matter. At the June 19, 2013 IAC meeting, the IAC indicated that given the information detailed above Councilman Aponte should have recused himself from the October 2011 vote to sell 95 Park Street to SAMA. As a result, the IAC voted unanimously to refer this matter to the Ethics Commission for review and further action as deemed appropriate.
Distribution: City Council Members Internal Audit Commission Members S. K. Borges, Acting Chief Operating Officer A. Cloud, Treasurer J. Figueroa, Acting Chief of Staff P. Segarra, Mayor