Connecticut auditors discovered an ethics violation at Central Connecticut State University when they discovered that a family member of a university employee paid $ 3,800 to take photos.
“During our investigation, we identified two cases where a direct family member of a university employee provided the university with $ 3,800 in photographic services,” the examiners wrote in the report. “In both cases there were no exceptions, and the university did not award the services in an open and public process.”
Connecticut law requires any service with a total value of more than $ 100 to go through an open bidding process.
After the investigators were informed of the violation, the CCSU contacted the Office of State Ethics, which entered into an agreement and a consent order with the photographer. CCSU is also planning ethics training for university employees, according to the audit.
Janice Palmer, interim vice president of communications for CCSU, says the matter is “more complex and confusing” than it appears in the report. The photographer was actually a CCSU student previously employed by the Office of Marketing and Communications to take photos and videos.
After working for the Office of Marketing and Communication, the student was then hired by another department to take photos.
“It was a very complex and confusing situation because this person has been employed before and those involved in this situation are fully aware of why it was unacceptable to hire this person this way,” said Palmer.
Under the Determination and Consent Order, the Office of State Ethics fined the photographer $ 1,000 on May 17, 2021.
However, OSE also stated in an email that “there is no indication” that the photographer “was aware of the code of ethics at the time the disputed contracts were awarded to him”.
A similar ethics violation by the Connecticut Port Authority in 2018 was discovered when media reports revealed that the CPA paid CEO Bonnie Reemsnyder’s daughter $ 3,250 for professional photography.
The revelation and a follow-up report by the auditors – who found the CPA to be spending lavish meals and travel expenses – sparked a firestorm of public and political criticism of the port authority. In 2019, Governor Ned Lamont called for Reemsnyder’s resignation and resigned as chairman of the board.
Palmer said the photos taken a few years ago were not being used for outbound purposes, but rather for internal staff and student communications.
“It wasn’t for a major project and it wasn’t for advertising,” Palmer said. “It was really for internal communication. We might have used it on our video screens and digital screens on campus and on the website. “