The former CEO of the state’s health care exchange has resigned from his new private sector job, just weeks after taking it. Jim Wadleigh now says his move may have contravened state ethics laws.
Jim Wadleigh had worked for Access Health since its founding six years ago -- and for the last three as its top executive. In September of last year, he oversaw a contract deal worth more than $2 million with a software company called Softheon, which provides cloud-based services for health insurance companies including enrollment, underwriting and billing.
In In April of this year, Wadleigh announced he was stepping down from the exchange. Then in early October, Softheon announced Wadleigh would join the company as its Chief Operating Officer. But the new job with a state contractor -- just six months since Wadleigh left his state job raised red flags for Cheri Quickmire, director of Common Cause, a government accountability watchdog.
“I think it’s appalling that people can just assign a big contract and then go off and work for that contractor,” she said. “It seems completely unreasonable.”
Nancy Nicolescu from the Office of State Ethics said the conduct comes under a clause in the Code of Ethics.
“When a public official or employee participates substantially in the negotiation of an award valued at $50,000 or more, that individual cannot be hired for one year from the date that they leave state service by a party to a state contract,” she said.
Nicolescu confirmed that Wadleigh did call the ethics office on February 5, and asked for advice on revolving door issues. He discussed the code with the assistant general counsel, who cited the clause, which requires a one-year cooling off period.
Here’s where Wadleigh’s timeline may have diverged from the state’s. He waited one year from the date the contract was signed, to become an employee of the contractor. The state code required that he pause one year from the end of his employment with Access Health CT.
Connecticut Public Radio raised these issues with Wadleigh’s new employer, Softheon, which issued a statement saying it was investigating the matter, and would comply with applicable law and regulation.
Then, Monday evening, came a statement from Wadleigh himself announcing his resignation.
“I have learned in the past few days that my understanding of the applicable restrictions on future employment was mistaken, and I now realize that I am not in compliance in my new job,” he wrote. “The last thing I would want to do is cause any difficulty for the State of Connecticut or Softheon, which is a great company poised to do great things. I have therefore resigned effective immediately from my new role.”