2nd Allegheny County Airport Authority board member invested in OneJet
A second Allegheny County Airport Authority board member is an investor in OneJet, the startup airline being sued by the authority, the Tribune-Review has learned.
Authority board member Jan Rea, a former county council member, said she and her husband Donald invested in the airline in June.
“We did it for their service to Naples because we have a place there, a winter home there,” Rea said Tuesday.
Airport spokesman Bob Kerlik said OneJet’s private flights were not out of Pittsburgh International Airport’s terminal.
Rea has not voted on any matters involving OneJet since she invested and will not do so in the future, she said.
“I was on (Allegheny County) council for 16 years, so I did have to abstain on some issues, and I would abstain if an issue came up regarding OneJet,” Rea said.
Allegheny County Airport Authority Board Vice Chairman Bob Lewis also invested in the airline, he told the Trib last week.
Rea said she has not voted on any OneJet matters since investing. Airport solicitor Jeff Letwin said Lewis hasn’t, either.
Letwin did not know Rea had invested until Tuesday, he said.
Rob Caruso, executive director of the Pennsylvania Ethics Commission, declined to comment on Rea and Lewis directly but said the commission would advise a board member for a public agency who also serves on the board of a private company to abstain from voting on any issue the public board would consider regarding the private company.
“Abstentions are key,” Caruso said.
Lewis has not submitted his financial disclosure form for 2017, which was due May 1, Kerlik said Tuesday. All other board members have turned in their forms.
Rea did not include the June OneJet investment on her form because she submitted it in April, she said. State law requires public officials to disclose private investments on the form if they hold more than a 5 percent stake in the company’s assets or debt, Caruso said.
It is unclear whether Rea or Lewis meet that threshold.
Lewis was also a member of OneJet’s board of directors, an airline spokeswoman told the Trib in December. The authority’s contract with the airline, signed June 9, 2016, says the authority gets to appoint one non-voting member to the airline’s board of directors. The authority appointed Lewis to that position, Letwin said.
Lewis did not include the OneJet board membership on his 2016 financial disclosure form, which he submitted Feb. 8, 2017. If a person served on a board of a private company in 2016, he or she would need to include it on his or her 2017 form, Caruso said.
“If someone doesn’t disclose it, it’s considered a deficient filing,” Caruso said. “How the commission looks at deficient filings is they’d look at is it just a transgression or is it something more serious … is it done to cover up a conflict of interest?”
Lewis said last week he was never on the airline’s board of directors, just on an advisory board.
Caruso declined to answer whether the commission has launched an investigation into Lewis in the matter. If the commission makes a determination, it will be public, Caruso said.
In April 2016, the authority board, including Lewis and Rea, voted unanimously to allow CEO Christina Cassotis to sign all airline incentive agreements up to any amount. About two months later, she signed an agreement to grant OneJet $1 million in state gaming revenue in exchange for the airline to launch service to 10 cities out of Pittsburgh.
The airline also received $1.5 million in public loans from Redeveloped Authority of Allegheny County and a $500,000 state loan.
The airline launched service to nine cities, all except Memphis, but now is down to just two — Indianapolis and Hartford, Conn. The airport authority sued the airline this month, seeking to reclaim $763,000.
Rea is not sure whether OneJet is still operating the private Naples service this winter, or any private service, she said.
OneJet CEO Matt Maguire did not return a call seeking comment.
Neither Rea nor Lewis plans to invest in OneJet in the future, they each said.
“I certainly hope they will remain successful in every service they offer, but I guess time will tell. Hopefully, they will restructure somehow and come out on the upside,” Rea said.
Theresa Clift is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Theresa at 412-380-5669, email@example.com or via Twitter @tclift.
Theresa Clift is a Tribune-Review staff reporter. You can contact Theresa at 412-380-5669, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .