The Seattle Port Commission has added its legal assessment to that of port staff in stating that Executive Director Tay Yoshitani did not violate the terms of his employment contract with the port when he accepted a position as a director at Expeditors International of Washington.
Thirteen members of the Washington Legislature complained in an Aug. 24 letter to the commission that Yoshitani’s decision to join the logistics provider as a director could present a conflict of interest by giving Expeditors a competitive advantage over other port customers.
Port staff earlier this week responded that lawyers at both the port authority and Expeditors had vetted the development and found no conflict of interest. The Seattle Port Commission on Tuesday added its views.
In a letter to the Washington State House of Representatives, Tom Albro, audit committee chairman, stated that Yoshitani’s contract, which is public, allows him to participate on his own time as a member of the board of directors of a private entity providing that the port’s general counsel determines participation “would not create or appear to create a conflict of interest.”
Also, the general counsel of Expeditors International informed the port commission that Yoshitani’s appointment was reviewed in accordance with the company’s internal policies and with the rules promulgated by the Nasdaq Stock Market and the Securities and Exchange Commission, Albro said.
Albro went on to state that Yoshitani’s position as a member of Expeditors’ board does not constitute employment at the company. Yoshitani is but one of nine directors at Expeditors and does not hold a leadership position on the board such as chairman or president of the board, he said.
Washington state law provides clear statutory language defining conflicts of interest for public employees who sit on corporate boards of directors, so anyone with specific information indicating that Yoshitani’s actions constitute a conflict of interest should send its legal assessment to the commission, Albro said.
Yoshitani’s salary at the port is $367,000 a year. His compensation at Expeditors will be $30,000 a year plus $1,000 per meeting and $200,000 in Expeditors stock.