09 July 2016

And He Would Have Gotten Away with It Too, If It Weren't for That Meddling Journalist

David Sirota has been all over the conflicts of interest and corruption at the heart of the proposed merger between the health insurers Anthem and Cigna:
Late last week, there was some notable news in the arcane world of insurance regulation: Connecticut’s state comptroller, Kevin Lembo, called on Insurance Department Commissioner Katharine Wade to recuse herself from a review of the proposed merger of the nation’s second- and fourth-largest insurers, Anthem and Cigna, in which the state has a lead role. “The revelations and repeated reports about your financial, personal and professional ties to Cigna,” Lembo wrote to Wade, “will make it challenging for the Connecticut public to view the review process of the Anthem-Cigna merger as fair and transparent.”

Lembo’s letter marked the latest turn in a controversy that, while building for more than a year, has come to a head over the past month—driven in substantial part by the ongoing reporting of David Sirota, the Denver-based senior investigations editor for the International Business Times. On June 1, Sirota published a lengthy piece weaving together previously-known and new concerns over conflicts of interest surrounding the merger review: Wade, appointed to her role in 2015 by Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy, is a former longtime Cigna lobbyist, her husband is a top Cigna lawyer, her father-in-law works for a law firm that lobbies for Cigna, and her mother worked for Cigna as recently as 2013. Wade’s brother, Sirota reported, also “previously worked as a counsel” for Cigna. Further, after reviewing more than a decade’s worth of campaign finance data, Sirota showed that Anthem, Cigna, and Cigna’s lobbying firm gave more than $2 million to groups linked to Gov. Malloy, with much of that money coming since 2015.
Since then, Sirota has produced more than a dozen follow-ups on the topic—tracking, for example, grassroots groups and state legislators calling on Malloy to remove Wade from the merger review—as what he initially envisioned as a “good little blog item” turned into an investigative series.
 Unfortunately, IBT is suffering financial difficulties, so go to their Political Capital page, and clock on their ads.

Seriously though, this coverage is kicking some major ass.


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