Gov. Phil Scott on Friday hit back at the state Ethics Commission's finding this week that he had a conflict of interest, calling it an "October surprise in an election year."
Scott complained that he offered to appear before the Ethics Commission, which was formed just this year, but received no response. He said he heard about the commission's finding from the media, and was not offered the "courtesy" of the commissioning informing him first.
"I was disappointed, to tell you the truth, from a number of different perspectives," said the Republican Scott, who is seeking election to a second two-year term.
Scott sold his half-share of his longtime business, DuBois Construction Inc., just after taking office in 2017. But he sold it to the other half of the company and held the 15-year loan for $2.5 million, earning 3 percent interest for the first five years. Last year, he received $75,000 in interest. The newly created Ethics Commission ruled that gave him an interest in the company's continuing success.
Meanwhile, DuBois Construction won a $250,000 state contract, which the commission says created the conflict.
"I still believe that this has been litigated a couple of times," Scott said. "Two years ago about this time during the election I made the commitment to sell my share of the business. In January, after being sworn in, I had a press conference and was fully transparent and showed everyone what had transpired what I was going to do. So there is nothing that hasn't been laid out.
"And so now we're litigating it again, for a third time at the 11th hour, kind of an October surprise during an election year."
Scott is facing opposition from several independent candidates and Democratic gubernatorial nominee Christine Hallquist, whose party took the opportunity Friday to launch a broadside at Scott.
"Years into people pointing out the clear conflict of interest with Phil Scott's relationship with DuBois Construction, he's still profiting off state contracts through his relationship with the company," said Rob Hipskind, the Vermont Democratic Party's coordinated campaign director.
"It's no surprise that the state's Ethics Commission would find this betrayal of the public trust to be an obvious conflict of interest," Hipskind added.