Wilton letter: The facts of the Elizabeth R. Ambler Trust
To the Editors:
I write regarding Michele Dunn's letter in the Aug, 29, 2019 Bulletin alleging I represent, “ a glaring conflict of interest in Wilton government.” While Ms. Dunn is entitled to her own opinion, she is not entitled to her own facts.
Here are the facts. I was elected to the Board of Selectmen on Nov. 3, 2015 and participated in my first meeting on Dec. 7, 2015. On Jan. 12 and 26, 2016, I submitted letters to Wilton’s Council on Ethics seeking their advice with regard to my role on the board and my wife, Robin’s, role with Friends of Ambler Farm, the nonprofit that manages Ambler Farm, a town-owned property. Robin has worked for Friends of Ambler Farm since October 2013.
I also sought guidance regarding my appointment as a trustee of the Elizabeth Raymond Ambler (ERA) Trust, a private foundation, on Jan. 12, 2016, and preemptively recused myself from Ambler matters under consideration by the board. The Advisory Opinion, time stamped Feb. 9, 2016, commended my diligence in seeking an opinion. As a member of the Board of Selectmen, I have avoided conflicts by recusing myself from selectmen discussion and voting, and absenting myself from the meeting room, when Ambler matters are before the board.
The ERA Trust was established in 1998 under Ms. Ambler’s will for two purposes:
To provide scholarships for high school graduates who, after careful and thorough review of their applications by the trustees are deemed deserving and in need of financial assistance in obtaining a college education or specialized education of the kind furnished by technical schools.
To provide grants to municipal, religious, charitable, benevolent or educational organizations or corporations.
Her will stipulated the three trustees were to be her attorney (Robert Slavitt); the pastor of St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church (the Rev. William L. Sachs Ph.D.); and the superintendent of the Wilton Public Schools (David F. Clune Ph.D.). Upon his passing in 2004, Attorney Slavitt, one of the three original trustees, was succeeded in 2005 by Attorney Thomas T. Adams of Gregory and Adams and former Town of Wilton Counsel. Attorney Adams worked tirelessly to implement the wishes of Elizabeth Ambler as specified in her will and believed, in keeping with past practices, an attorney should succeed him. I was appointed to the trust on Jan. 12, 2016, after the passing of Mr. Adams, who had selected me as his successor.
The trust provided grants to the Friends of Ambler Farm on multiple occasions, the most recent in February 2015, when the three trustees, Attorney Adams, Rev. Sachs and Dr. Clune voted to provide a grant of $210,000 for restoration of the Raymond Ambler House. I am certain Ms. Ambler would be absolutely thrilled with the actions of the three trustees at that time, in keeping with wishes expressed in her will.
Not only do I believe the citizens of Wilton deserve ethical leaders and integrity and transparency in government, I practice those beliefs.
David K. Clune
Wilton, Sept. 2