By now every voter in Vermont must know that Lt. Gov. Phil Scott is the longtime co-owner of Dubois Construction – a company that competes for and receives millions in state highway contracts. Considering his position as an elected official, it is surprising that this issue has only been raised a few times during his 15 years as a state senator (on the Transportation Committee) and his time as Lt. Governor.
Early on when Scott was about to enter the race for governor, he attempted to preclude any discussion of conflict of interest and told Vtdigger.com he would temporarily distance himself from his highway construction business, should he become governor. “When a project he has supported as an elected official goes out to bid, Scott said he makes sure his company does not seek the contract.”
Well, one of his “quiet accomplishments over the years” (listed under ‘transportation’ on his campaign website) may conflict just a bit with that statement.
In 2005 (five years before he became Lite Governor) while serving on the Senate Transportation committee, Scott successfully lobbied U.S.Senator James Jeffords to place a specific type of funded project in a Federal transportation bill.
Vermont (USA) Senator Jim Jeffords (I-VT) credited Vermont State Senator Phil Scott (R-Washington County) with the provision in the new federal transportation legislation adding modern roundabout projects to the list of safety improvements eligible nationwide for 100 percent federal transportation funding.
Modern traffic roundabouts are recognized safety improvements for traffic and pedestrians, and usually significantly improve intersections. They’re also pricey, so in 2005, getting the Feds to cough up 100% of the cost of building them was significant.
It also turns out Scott’s Dubois Construction Company made several attempts to get a piece of that federal roundabout funding he had arranged.
Over several years, Dubois Construction bid on at least three roundabout projects including two since he became Lt. Governor.
One bid [CONTRACT ID : 04B198] in 2008 was worth $1,388,412.00, one in 2011 worth $1,754,788.83 [CONTRACT ID : 08B126], and in 2013 (what would have been a biggie) worth $11,953,592.58 [CONTRACT ID : 78D082]
. All his bids were in the middle of the pack, but not being the lowest bid, none were awarded to Scott’s company. Taken together, the three bids would have been worth over 15 million dollars to Scott and Dubois Construction.
Up until recently, it was accepted as gospel that Vermont’s government was uniquely honest. But with the EB-5 Regional Program now under fire over Jay Peak’s alleged “ponzi scheme,” an overly active government-to-business revolving door, and finally the state Senate’s embarrassing efforts at (not) passing any ethics regulations, this bit of bogus gospel is due for a revision. One longtime Vermont commentator recently declared that “Vermont state government is still pretty squeaky clean.” Kind of an ethical gray area — you know, like, being “sort of” honest?
At least in a ’roundabout’ way, Phil Scott may have provided a road map of how, if elected governor, his ethics will intersect with his private business interests.