CHICAGO (WLS) -- The state's former public health director is under investigation by a state ethics agency for taking a CEO job at a medical non-profit overseen and funded by the state agency she led.
Dr. Ngozi Ezike, a steady, reassuring figure alongside Gov. JB Pritzker during pandemic news conferences, stepped down from her $178,000 per year state post in March. In April, she accepted an offer to lead Sinai Health System, one of the state's top medical nonprofits.
The Illinois Ethics Act requires department heads like Ezike to wait a year before accepting positions with companies that hold contracts overseen by their departments, or with companies their departments license or regulate. And while in office they cannot engage in job negotiations with companies that lobby their agencies.
The Illinois Office of the Executive Inspector General opened an ethics investigation of Ezike amid inquiries by the Better Government Association.
Ezike declined to comment to the BGA, her attorney issued a statement.
"I do not believe Dr. Ezike violated the revolving door," said Heather Wier Vaught. "From a legal perspective, it's not clear cut. That's part of the problem with Illinois' law. The revolving door law is not clear cut. It's very gray."
The BGA investigation examined government emails and contract documents that raise questions about Ezike's swift move to a company intricately involved with her agency.