The Alabama State Port Authority is still waiting for the results of an investigation by the State Examiner of Public Accounts.
Earlier this year, the Port Authority was made aware of an investigation by the State Examiner of Public Accounts into a pay raise and bonus contract given to ASPA’s Director and Chief Executive Officer John Driscoll. The State Examiner has not accused Driscoll of wrongdoing. Still, it is believed to be investigating under what authority Chair of the Port Authority T. Bestor Ward III unilaterally approved the scheme.
Without consulting the Port Authority’s board, Ward granted Driscoll a 4 percent increase in pay and a bonus to cover the cost of a membership in the Mobile Country Club.
State law requires that the entire board approve the director’s compensation according to Alabama Code Section 33-(g)-(1): “The board shall fix the salary of the director at any reasonable amount giving due consideration to the salaries of comparable positions in other states and in private industry.” It further states, “The board may provide and fund an alternate benefits package for the director.”
When APR first questioned the pay raise and bonus, ASPA’s spokesperson claimed that ASPA’s Board of Directors was informed of the raise and bonus. However, that claim was later retracted when Ward admitted that he authorized the pay and bonus without consulting the board.
In an April email to APR, Ward stated: “In our next board meeting, I will recommend a policy to clearly state that any change in compensation for our CEO must be considered and approved by our full board. That was not done on the recent compensation change, and it was a mistake which I regret. It is important to me that this not shed a negative light in any way on our board, organization, or CEO.”
In a recent inquiry, Adams informed APR that Ward had met with the board and it approved a resolution confirming the process by which executive compensation is approved.
Adams also confirmed that the State Examiner of Public Accounts had not informed ASPA of the findings of its investigation.