Ex-state agency head will pay $100k to settle ethics dispute

Written By Dave McKinney Posted: 04/25/2014, 11:55am

SPRINGFIELD-An ex-cabinet director under former Gov. Rod Blagojevich and Gov. Pat Quinn agreed to pay the state $100,000 to settle an ethics complaint that focused on a violation of the state revolving-door prohibition.

The settlement agreement between state Executive Inspector General Ricardo Meza and Barry Maram, who led the state Department of Healthcare and Family Services from 2003 to 2010, was announced Friday through the state Executive Ethics Commission.

The amount represents the largest settlement of its kind, by far, involving the state ethics watchdog.

Illinois law bars high-ranking state officials with authority to enter into contracts from leaving the state payroll to take a job with any contractor under their jurisdiction that has more than $25,000 in state work. That prohibition exists until one year after the official leaves his or her state job.

In Maram’s case, he resigned from his state post in Quinn’s administration in April 2010 then accepted a $250,000-a-year job with the Chicago law firm of Shefsky and Froelich, which represented his agency in litigation that ultimately succeeded in stopping an expansion of the state’s children’s health-insurance program.

The firm had contracts valued at a combined $300,000 in fiscal years 2009 and 2010.

In the settlement agreement announced Friday, Maram did not acknowledge violating state ethics law. Nothing in the agreement prohibits him or his law firm from doing state business in the future.

“Throughout my 40-year career in public and private service, I have never compromised my integrity or the public’s trust. At even the hint of conflict in this matter, I asked for and received opinions that my transition was allowed under the ethics act. I would not have made the move to private practice without those assurances,” Maram said in a prepared statement. “Both the governor’s office and the Senate president’s office are on record with separate opinions in support of this position.

“Now, four years later, I’ve decided to settle this matter in order to finally put it to rest. I look forward to moving my career ahead with a great firm, wonderful clients, and with my integrity and reputation intact,” Maram said.


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