Christine Stuart photo

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy on Friday afternoon nominated Katharine L. Wade, a former Cigna Corp. executive and daughter-in-law of a top Democratic Party fundraiser, to be insurance commissioner.

At a Capitol press conference Malloy said he interviewed a handful of candidates and reviewed about 15 resumes before nominating Wade.

“There was personal involvement by myself,” Malloy said of the selection process.

According to her LinkedIn profile, Wade last worked at Cigna in 2013 as vice president Public Policy, Government Affairs and U.S. Compliance, where she led a team of “130 professionals responsible for all federal and state legislative and regulatory affairs, public policy and compliance operations for health, group life and disability businesses.”

During her time at Cigna she also served as state government relations committee chair for America’s Health Insurance Plans, and was an officer with the Connecticut Association of Health Plans.

Wade’s father-in-law, James Wade, works for Robinson & Cole — the lobbying and law firm for the Connecticut Association of Health Plans, a trade association for insurance companies.

Malloy said he chose Katharine Wade because of her regulatory experience. He said he was looking for a partner in what he deems an “inappropriate attack” on state-based regulations. He said there’s a desire on the behalf of European and Asian companies to dictate regulations to the 50 states.

“I disagree with that fundamentally,” Malloy said.

“Katie’s experience in the insurance industry and her familiarity with the federal government and state governments around the nation will be a benefit in our efforts to protect consumers and help the industry grow here in Connecticut,” he said in a statement.

Wade, 49, will start her new role on Tuesday, March 24. She replaces Thomas Leonardi, who left in December after serving through Malloy’s first term as governor. Deputy Commissioner Anne Melissa Dowling has been serving as acting commissioner for the past few months.

Asked if he was worried about the appearance of impropriety in nominating the daughter-in-law of a top Democratic fundraiser, Malloy said flatly, “no.”

James Wade is outside counsel for the Connecticut Democratic Party, and is the head of Prosperity for Connecticut, a political action committee. Malloy has spoken at events hosted by the PAC, which was created to support candidates for statewide office and the General Assembly.