UPDATE: FACT Files Comments with Ethics Board About CT Insurance Commissioner Conflict of Interest
Updated: Mar 19, 2019
After FACT’s June 16 letter, the Citizens Ethics Advisory Board voted to launch an ethics review of Connecticut Insurance Commissioner Katharine Wade.
Today, FACT submitted public comments to the Board, which argued that Commissioner Wade has an apparent and substantial conflict of interest that should prevent her from taking any action on the proposed merger between two insurers, Cigna and Anthem.
FACT’s letter explained the personal and political ties Wade has to Cigna, and stated:
A conflict of interest is defined as “a real or seeming incompatibility between one’s private interests and one’s public or fiduciary duties.” Commissioner Wade’s financial, personal, and political ties to Cigna demonstrate an actual and apparent incompatibility to participate in the Cigna-Anthem merger. It is imperative that government functions in an unbiased manner, both in practice and perception. Where there is an actual or apparent conflict that undermines the public’s confidence in the function of government, recusal is required. Even a subset of the facts presented in this case should result in a recusal, but given the number and deep degree of conflicts the Board must prohibit Commissioner Wade’s participation and provide the public with a fair and unbiased review.
You can read FACT's Comments here.
June 16, 2016: CT Insurance Commissioner Conflict of Interest Before Ethics Board
Today, FACT sent a letter to the Connecticut Citizen's Ethics Advisory Board. Last fall, FACT filed an ethics complaint against Connecticut Insurance Commissioner Katharine Wade and that same conflict of interest issue is now before the Citizen's Ethics Advisory Board. It will consider Commissioner Wade's financial ties to Cigna, which is seeking approval for a merger with another insurer, Anthem. Read FACT's letter in full here.
November 16, 2015: CT Newspaper Calls On Wade Recusal After FACT Files Ethics Complaint
The Hartford Courant editorialized that Connecticut Insurance Commissioner Katharine Wade (D) should recuse herself from considering a massive insurance company merger because her husband works at one of the companies involved:
Now that state Attorney General George Jepsen's wife no longer works for Cigna, he's free to weigh in on the merger of that company with another insurance giant, Anthem. But what about state Insurance Commissioner Katharine Wade? She's a former vice president of Cigna. Her husband, Michael Wade, is currently on the Cigna payroll as associate chief counsel for litigation in its law department. That complicates her role in reviewing the merger and its impact on Connecticut. She'd be better off stepping to the side for now.
In September, FACT filed an ethics complaint against Wade over her apparent conflict of interest:
"The overriding issue is what I would describe as close ties to Cigna," said [Matthew] Whitaker, executive director of an ethics watchdog group, Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust. "In my mind, just in an abundance of caution, she should recuse to eliminate this appearance of impropriety." …
The complaint, as supplied by Whitaker, cites Wade's April disclosure, showing she held shares in Cigna, which was the latest public filing on the issue until Thursday. Even without stock ownership, Whitaker said, the facts "raise questions about her motivations to approve or disapprove of this merger, either way."