New DECD Commissioner Gets To Work, Says Confirmation "Didn't Really Slow Me Down" | Connecticut Public Radio

New DECD Commissioner Gets To Work, Says Confirmation "Didn't Really Slow Me Down"

Mar 31, 2019

New Department of Economic and Community Development commissioner David Lehman has begun raising his public profile, just days after his controversial nomination was confirmed by the state senate.

Lehman visited New Haven Friday, and said that having a long-term plan for growth in cities, including New Haven, is a priority.

He pointed to transportation as a key factor in spurring development there.

“I think having the New Haven Line work efficiently and effectively is really critical – everywhere from Stamford to New Haven, but in particular here in New Haven -- to the extent that we can get that train time down, that is really crucial,” Lehman said.

Lehman said that despite the fight over his confirmation, he’s been able to get to work in recent weeks. State lawmakers and the members of the press had raised questions over Lehman’s role at Goldman Sachs, where he was a managing director during the 2008 financial crisis.

“It’s nice to have the confirmation process in the rearview mirror,” he said. “But, it really didn’t slow me down because I’ve been focused from day one on doing the job. I visited almost 40 companies, I spoke with professionals, I think I’ve been in almost 12 or 13 municipalities at this point, so I’m definitely focused on doing the job and being out on the road.”  

David Lehman pictured in New Haven on Friday, March 29, where while visiting a space for start-up business said that a top priority of his was long-term economic growth in Connecticut's cities.
Credit Frankie Graziano / Connecticut Public Radio

Lehman had acknowledged while he was in the process of being confirmed that in the summer of 2007 he oversaw collateralized debt obligations or CDOs – a pool of mortgage assets that can be sold off to investors -- for Goldman Sachs. Many of the mortgages those CDOs were based on went into foreclosure. At the same time, Goldman Sachs itself was holding positions that bet against the same assets it was selling.

He was questioned about his level of honesty with investors -- whether he was aware his company sold products it knew would eventually be worthless. Lehman has said that’s “completely and wholly untrue.”

He ended up being confirmed with “yea” votes from 28 of Connecticut’s 36 state senators.