The chief executive of the Port of Corpus Christi, the No. 1 oil export port in the U.S., has resigned after a meeting where he was questioned about his business expenses, according to reports.
Sean Strawbridge’s resignation on Tuesday came a day after a story aired on KRIS-TV about his alleged excessive expenses, including $10,000 a month on food, drinks and snacks, World Series tickets, and a $202,000 trip to Tel Aviv, Israel, to visit desalination facilities.
Strawbridge’s resignation was announced after a heated port authority commission meeting where he publicly sparred with a commissioner, according to the Corpus Christi Caller-Times.
The seven-member port commission approved the terms of Strawbridge’s separation in a 6-1 vote after conferring in closed session.
The terms of his severance agreement were not disclosed. He will remain CEO until June 2.
In an interview with Reuters, Strawbridge defended his expenditures.
“All of my expenses to my knowledge are compliant with port policy and state statutes, and have all cleared the internal review process and approval process,” he said.
Strawbridge did not give a reason for his resignation but said the decision had been “in the works for a while” and called it “purely a personal decision.”
He joined the Port of Corpus Christi in 2015 as chief operating officer, becoming CEO in 2018.
Strawbridge is among the highest-paid port executives in the U.S., making over $750,000 last year in salary and bonuses.
“I am extremely proud of the incredible success of the Port of Corpus Christi over my eight-year tenure,” Strawbridge said in a statement. “From assembling the greatest team in the business to achieving record financial performance, we have accomplished many wonderful achievements together that have helped define my legacy here.”
The Port of Corpus Christi has been in operation since 1926 and is the nation’s largest energy export gateway and one of the largest seaports in total waterway tonnage. Corpus Christi is on the Gulf of Mexico, about 130 miles southeast of San Antonio.
During Strawbridge’s time as CEO, the port broke several tonnage records and started several major infrastructure projects, including the Corpus Christi Ship Channel Improvement Project, which received $157.3 million in funding last year.
The Port of Corpus Christi accounts for roughly 60% of all U.S. crude oil exports, according to research firm RBN Energy.
Commissioners for the port said Wednesday they intend to appoint an interim chief and will begin a search for a new CEO.
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