CT ethics board to consider Common Cause petition seeking Wade investigation

Connecticut ethics officials will consider a petition filed by Common Cause late Monday that asks them to rule on whether Connecticut Insurance Commissioner Katharine L. Wade’s ties to her former employer, Cigna, require her to recuse herself from reviewing a proposed merger of Cigna and Anthem.

The state ethics office’s Citizen’s Ethics Advisory Board moved quickly to hold a vote on the petition Thursday. That vote will determine whether an investigation will be held.

This is a picture of Connecticut Insurance Commissioner Katharine L. Wade.

Arielle Levin Becker / The CT Mirror

Connecticut Insurance Commissioner Katharine L. Wade.

Wade is the lead state regulator reviewing the proposed Anthem-Cigna deal, which has raised concerns among consumer groups in the state and Common Cause, who say there is a conflict of interest and she should recuse herself from the review.

Wade, who was earlier cleared of conflict by the Office of State Ethics, is a former Cigna lobbyist whose husband still works for the company. One of Wade’s top deputies, who left the agency in January, is a former Cigna employee, and another former Cigna employee served as agency counsel in reviewing the Anthem-Cigna plan.

Common Cause Connecticut Executive Director Cheri Quickmire said it’s “abundantly clear” that any review of the insurance merger led by Wade “will be irredeemably tainted and will not serve the needs of consumers or the state.”

“We want to have a review of what we think is a conflict of interest in the personal and professional relationship of Commissioner Wade with Cigna,” Quickmire said.

Chris McClure, spokesman for Gov. Dannel Malloy said, “We have always said, consistently, that if the ethics commission identified a problem, then we would undoubtedly follow their guidance.”

“So far, that has not been the case,” McClure said. “The commissioner has previously and proactively sought that independent guidance, and what’s been made clear from their end is that everything is being handled appropriately. However, as we’ve always said, should Ethics choose to reverse course or change direction from the guidance they have previously given the commissioner, then we would absolutely follow it.”