Sean Connaughton

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Sean Connaughton
Sean T Connaughton 2006 Marad photo aspect.jpg
12th Virginia Secretary of Transportation
In office
January 16, 2010 – January 11, 2014
GovernorBob McDonnell
Preceded byPierce Homer
Succeeded byAubrey Layne
United States Maritime Administrator
In office
September 6, 2006 – January 20, 2009
PresidentGeorge W. Bush
Preceded byJohn E. Jamian
Succeeded byDavid T. Matsuda
Chairman of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors
In office
January 1999 – September 6, 2006
Preceded byKathleen Seefeldt
Succeeded byCorey A. Stewart
Personal details
Sean Thomas Connaughton

(1961-02-25) February 25, 1961 (age 58)
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Teresa Voda
Alma materUnited States Merchant Marine Academy
George Mason University
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/serviceUnited States Coast Guard United States Navy Reserve
Years of service1986–2006

Sean Thomas Connaughton (born February 25, 1961) was the Secretary of Transportation for the Commonwealth of Virginia from 2010 until 2014. He served as the Maritime Administrator, the head of the U.S. Maritime Administration, an agency of the United States Department of Transportation, from 2006 until early 2009. Connaughton served as Chairman of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors from January 1, 2000 until his appointment as Maritime Administrator. He is also a lawyer, unsuccessful 2005 Republican candidate for Lieutenant Governor of Virginia, former United States Coast Guard officer, and a retired officer of the United States Naval Reserve. He was confirmed as Maritime Administrator by the Senate on August 3, 2006.

President George W. Bush nominated Connaughton to serve as Commissioner of the Federal Maritime Commission. Congress did not take up the nomination. He left federal service to work as the Corporate Vice President of Government Affairs for the American Bureau of Shipping. Connaughton became the Secretary of Transportation in the Cabinet of Governor Bob McDonnell in January 2010.


Connaughton is a 1979 graduate of Chaminade High School. He received a B.Sc. from the United States Merchant Marine Academy in 1983 and a law degree from George Mason University in 1992. Connaughton also has a Masters in Public Administration from Georgetown University and is a graduate of the Naval War College.[1]

Early career[edit]

Immediately upon graduation from the United States Merchant Marine Academy, Connaughton accepted a Commission as an Officer in the United States Coast Guard, remaining on Active Duty until 1986 when he joined the United States Naval Reserve. He continued to serve in the Coast Guard as an Assistant Branch Chief in the marine safety area. Connaughton entered private legal practice in 1992. His legal career is highlighted by his service as Co-counsel on the case Intertanko v. Locke, winning a unanimous decision before the United States Supreme Court[2]

Chairman of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors[edit]

Connaughton was elected Chairman of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors in November 1999, defeating the incumbent, Kathleen K. Seefeldt. He was re-elected to a second four-year term, beginning January 1, 2004. He resigned that position on September 6, 2006.

The Washington Post characterized Connaghton as a "pragmatist" during his tenure.[3] Connaughton capped the growth of all real estate taxes at 5.9%, despite double-digit growth in real estate value and the jurisdiction achieved a AAA Bond Rating. He also successfully campaigned to bring AOL, General Dynamics, Comcast, Eli Lilly and other major employers to Prince William.

Maritime Administration[edit]

In September 2006, Connaughton assumed the helm of the Maritime Administration. He focused on laying the foundation for a marine highways system, greater opportunities for American mariners, and a reorganization of the agency to make it more effective are significant steps he's taken during his watch.[4] During his tenure Connaughton was consistently cited as one of the best Federal transportation policy leaders by Members of Congress, industry and the media.

Connaughton received several awards and recognitions for his service as Administrator, including: Vincent T. Hirsh Maritime Award for Outstanding Leadership by the Navy League of the United States (2009), "Maritime Person of the Year" by the Propeller Club of the United States (2007), "Maritime Samaritan Award" from the Apostleship of the Sea of the United States (2009) and "Government Man of the Year" by the Maritime Port Council of Greater New York (2007). Additionally, the Journal of Commerce named him to its 2008 "JOC Leadership Roll". Connaughton's service was also recognized by the Massachusetts Maritime Academy in 2007 through the awarding of an Honorary Doctorate in Public Administration.

Virginia Secretary of Transportation[edit]

On December 22, 2009 Virginia Governor-elect Bob McDonnell announced Sean Connaughton as his appointment to Secretary of Transportation for the Commonwealth of Virginia.[5] He was sworn into office on January 16, 2010. As Secretary, Connaughton oversees seven agencies with over 10,000 employees and combined budgets of more than $5 billion. After taking office, he initiated multiple audits of the Virginia Department of Transportation which identified more than $1.4B of misallocated funds that were then deployed to advance stalled projects. Connaughton led efforts to grow private investment in the Commonwealth's aging infrastructure system by establishing a new P3 Office, streamlining the Public-Private Transportation Act process and recognizing innovative financing opportunities. Under his leadership, a state investment of less than $600 million has been leveraged into over $3 billion worth of infrastructure, ranking Virginia #2 worldwide for P3 deals. He has overseen the creation of the Virginia Transportation Infrastructure Bank, providing a resource that public-and private-sector entities can use to finance projects and accelerate construction. Most critically, Connaughton is credited with enabling passage of Virginia's Road to the Future, the first comprehensive transportation funding bill approved in the Commonwealth in 27 years. His efforts secured a historic bipartisan compromise in the Virginia General Assembly, resulting in a tax reform package that boosted projected transportation revenues $7B over the next 6 years by diversifying the revenue base away from declining gas tax to greater reliance on sales tax funding.


  1. ^ "Bush Nominates Law School Alumnus to Maritime Post". The Mason Gazette. 2006-07-13. Retrieved 2009-03-21.
  2. ^ "United States (Intertanko) v. Locke: The Supreme Court Strikes Down State of Washington Regulations". American Bar Association. 2000-05-01.
  3. ^ "A Centrist's Legacy; Sean Connaughton, pragmatist". The Washington Post. 19 August 2006. Retrieved 8 August 2016.
  4. ^ "Outgoing Marad chief sees short sea, other progress". Retrieved 8 August 2016.
  5. ^ "McDonnell to name Connaughton secretary of transportation". Richmond Times-Dispatch. December 22, 2009. Archived from the original on 2010-03-22. Retrieved January 5, 2009.
Political offices
Preceded by
Kathleen Seefeldt
Chairman of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors
1999 – 2006
Succeeded by
Corey A. Stewart