Thursday, April 17, 2014
AUGUSTA – Charges on credit cards that the Maine Turnpike Authority issued to Executive Director Paul Violette show the style in which he traveled as he met with bankers, engineers and toll organizations in North America and Europe.
Violette, who resigned in March after leading the authority for 23 years, stayed at luxury hotels such as the Castle Hill Inn in Newport, R.I. ($631 per night), the Bellagio in Las Vegas ($654 per night) and the Surrey on the East Side of Manhattan ($689 per night).
He dined at the Carlyle, an elegant white-glove restaurant on Manhattan's Upper East Side ($816 for a meal with "various individuals"), and at Jean Georges, a four-star French restaurant in midtown Manhattan ($754 for a meal with "various individuals").
In 2005, he flew to France for a summit of the finance committee of the International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association. Violette was a member of the committee, and was president of the association in 2001.
Violette and "various individuals" spent $2,820 for lodging and meals at La Chevre D'or in Eze, France, and $7,976 at the Hotel Palais de la Mediterranee in Nice.
Violette also traveled in 2005 to Puerto Rico and Toronto.
In 2006, the turnpike authority spent $2,805 for a night at the Borgata Hotel in Atlantic City, N.J., for 10 people, including turnpike authority staff members and officials from HNTB, an engineering firm.
Many of Violette's biggest expenses, though, were charged close to home, often for large functions with turnpike authority board members and senior turnpike officials.
In December 2004, a meal at the Black Point Inn on Prouts Neck in Scarborough cost $4,562. A year later, lodging at the Black Point Inn cost the turnpike authority $5,533.
Also in 2005, the turnpike authority spent $1,793 for a "planning retreat" for senior officials at the Sebasco Harbor Resort in Phippsburg.
From June 22-27, 2006, Violette charged $5,711 for meals and lodging at restaurants and hotels in the Portland area, including $1,052 at the Royal River Grill in Yarmouth and $3,886 for food and lodging at the Portland Harbor Hotel.
The purpose of the June 2006 spending was listed as "directors meeting and dinner" and a visit with officials from IAG, a business consulting company.
In 2008, the turnpike authority spent $2,673 for a "summer soir?' for about 40 people at the Saltwater Grille in South Portland.
That summer, Bar Lola on Portland's Munjoy Hill became a favorite dining spot for Violette and "various individuals." The turnpike authority spent $1,653 for five visits to the restaurant.
MaineToday Media State House Writer Tom Bell can be contacted at 699-6261 or at: