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Port of Corpus Christi Authority CEO Sean Strawbridge inks separation agreement

Port of Corpus Christi C.E.O., Sean Strawbridge
Posted at 4:37 PM, May 16, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-31 23:17:28-04

UPDATE - 5/31/2023:

On Wednesday night, Chairman of the Port of Corpus Christi, Charlie Zahn, released the separation agreement between the port and outgoing CEO Sean Strawbridge.

Zahn confirmed to KRIS 6 News that he released that separation agreement to another media outlet but not to KRIS 6 News or the Caller-Times. Zahn did tell us that he would release the document to KRIS 6 and the Caller-Times on Thursday. He was informed that KRIS 6 would be filing a complaint for violating the Public of Information Act with the Attorney General's Office.

UPDATE - 5/25/2023:

6 Investigates has learned that Port of Corpus Christi CEO/Executive Director Sean Strawbridge signed a separation agreement on Thursday.

The agreement allows him seven days to rescind his signature. Sources tell us that the agreement will be released once the seven days expires.

UPDATE - 5/23/2023:

The Port of Corpus Christi Commissioners voted today not to make any of the proposed changes to current Executive Director/CEO Sean Strawbridge's separation agreement. The initial motion was made by Commissioner David Engel, who is the Chair of the Audit Committee and has been the one in charge of signing off on all of Strawbridge's expenses.

So far, we don't know what is in the final separation agreement, but have submitted a second public information request for the details.

Only one commissioner voted against the separation agreement.

She said she is seeking for more transparency into port spending.

"The public has a right to know. It is extremely important that the port watch our budget, we watch spending, and that we are fiduciaries of the public trust," Port Commissioner Diane Gonzalez said.

Others refuse to speak, like Sean Strawbridge who has promised an interview with KRIS 6 on two separate occasions but has yet to deliver, or even the Port of Corpus Christi Chairman Charlie Zahn.

We of course will continue to gather information, regardless of public officials refusal to speak with us. Commissioner Gonzales told KRIS 6 News that Strawbridge's last day will be May 31st.

As far as the future, the port has yet to announce an interim CEO. They did vote to hire Shey-Harding Associates to conduct a search to help them with a permanent replacement.

ORIGINAL - 5/16/2023:

Port of Corpus Christi commissioners, after having a lengthy discussion in executive session about the employment and possible termination of Port of Corpus Christi Executive Director/CEO Sean Strawbridge, accepted his resignation on Tuesday.

Strawbridge has been with the Port of Corpus Christi Authority since May 2015.

Strawbridge's resignation comes a day after we reported about lavish spending by the port and Strawbridge.

This is a story the 6I team has been working on for months and planned to contact the port and Strawbridge within the next week, but received the announcement that his employment and possible termination was to be discussed Tuesday. The story we put out Monday evening, which went over a number of expenses like $10,000 a month on food, drinks and snacks, world series tickets, and even a $202,000 trip to Tel Aviv, was mentioned by not only commissioners before the vote but by Strawbridge as well.

"I invite chairman Zahn and chairman Engle and the rest of the port commission to join me in rejecting these assertions and stand up to these nefarious actors." Strawbridge went on say. "I have never engaged in any activity using my professional position as the CEO of the Port of Corpus Christi for personal gain outside of my compensation on package afforded me by the Port Commission."

After an extended executive meeting regarding Strawbridge's employment, commissioners voted to accept his resignation, but the terms of the separation agreement still have to be ironed out.

Commissioners authorized chairman Charlie Zahn to negotiate that agreement, so it's unclear when his final day will be.

Some commissioners were upset about the results from Tuesday's meeting, saying the port and thus the region lost an asset.

"I'm not going to speculate why he resigned, but I will tell you he will be sorely missed by everyone in this organization," Port Commissioner Bryan Gulley said.

While others are fearful that his separation agreement will be too costly to the port, especially if it includes items that were in the initial agreement.

That agreement we reported on Monday night includes absolving Strawbridge of any claims the port may have against him, it also includes a million-dollar payout and that the port has to represent him in any future litigation.

"I did not vote for this item because I believe the issues raised are serious and deserve greater recognition by the port commission," Port Commissioner Diane Gonzalez said.

Before the vote, Strawbridge denied he had done anything wrong and said that he could dispute everything KRIS 6 reported. He even offered an interview with us, but after the commissioner's meeting, he dodged our attempts to get that interview and will not answer our calls.

KRIS 6 will put in a public information request for the finalized separation agreement that Zahn and Strawbridge put together.

We will also continue investigating port spending, as well as the results of a future forensic audit, which is a deeper dive into ports expenses, and will keep you informed as soon we receive more details.

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