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Connecticut Housing Finance Authority paid employee $50,000 to not show up, followed by $250,000 severance

The Connecticut Housing Finance Authority paid an employee a severance package of $250,875 after leaving the quasi-public agency, according to an audit by the Auditors of Public Accounts.

The employee worked for CHFA for two and half years. The agency also paid the unidentified employee $50,000 in salary, plus health benefits and vacation accrual, for a period of three months during which “the employee was not required to report to work daily and was permitted to accept employment elsewhere.”

The employee was also given $5,000 toward “job placement costs.”

The payments did not violate state statute because the CHFA board of directors maintains the ability to negotiate severance packages. However, the auditors concluded that these payments were “questionable” and not “prudent.”

CHFA responded in the audit that the decision by the Authority’s board of directors was “reasonable.”

Although the employee is not named in the audit, the Stamford Advocate identified former CHFA Director Eric Chatman. Chatman was appointed as president and director by the board of directors in April of 2012 and resigned in March of 2015 to “pursue other interests.” He also gave three months notice to the board of directors.

In 2015, Chatman received a salary of $323,483.85 with an additional benefit package of $47,348.49, according to the Office of Fiscal Analysis’ transparency website.

The CHFA is a quasi-public agency that provides home financing for low- to moderate-income families through a variety of programs. The authority also provides financing for building and rehabilitating affordable housing projects.

As of 2015, the authority had committed $1.1 billion in mortgage loans, 53 percent of its statutory limit.

The board of directors that determined the payments to be “reasonable” include Office of Policy and Management Secretary Benjamin Barnes, State Treasurer Denise Nappier, and Catherine Smith, commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development.

The board consists of 16 members, most of whom were appointed by Governor Dannel Malloy.

Evonne Klein, chair of the CHFA board of directors, said in a statement, “CHFA is a quasi-public agency. It does not receive any direct appropriations from the state general fund. CHFA generates its own revenue to cover employee expenses, such as salaries and benefits. In 2014, the Board of Directors voted to approve a separation package with the former Executive Director. This decision was deemed to be in the best interest of the Authority.”

This article was amended to include the statement by Evonne Klein

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