Tag Archives: Dale

On Middle TN Money and the Defeat of an East TN Republican

Veteran state Rep. Dale Ford, R-Jonesborough, was defeated in his bid for reelection by Micah Van Huss, a first-time candidate who owes much of his campaign success to a generous benefactor in Middle Tennessee, says Robert Houk.
How could a political newcomer like Van Huss pull off such a win? The answer is easy — money. And not his own. A report in The Tennessee Journal (a weekly newsletter dedicated to Tennessee politics and business) noted that Andrew Miller, a Nashville businessman, was “financing independent radio attacks on state Sen. Doug Overbey, and Reps. Charles Sargent, Debra Maggart and Dale Ford in their Republican primaries.”
…Miller’s direct involvement in the 6th District race troubles some Washington County Republicans. One asked, “Why in the world would someone in Middle Tennessee care about who we send to Nashville?”
Several local government officials also told me they were disappointed to see Ford lose his seat in the House because they considered him to be their go-to guy in Nashville. That’s not something they say of Hill.
Republicans eating their own is certainly not new, at least not in Northeast Tennessee. Ford’s defeat reminds more than a few local politicos of the 2004 GOP primary that saw Hill knock off incumbent Rep. Bob Patton, R-Johnson City. Hill was aided in that race by a series of attack ads funded by individuals who lived outside the 7th District.

House Education Chair Gets Haslam Help Against Challenger Carr

The notion of carrying water for Gov. Bill Haslam has come up for discussion in a Sevier County campaign for a state House seat this summer and perhaps serves to illustrate the differences between candidates Richard Montgomery and Dale Carr.
“Mr. Montgomery said, ‘I’ve carried the governor’s water and I’d be happy to carry it all the way to the White House,” says Carr, 57, an auctioneer and Sevierville alderman.
“If I’m elected, I’m not going to be one to carry anybody’s water,” Carr said. “I don’t want to make the governor mad in any case, but sometimes in Sevier County we don’t like people telling us what to do.”
Yes, says Montgomery, he has made comments on gubernatorial water-bearing while facing his first Republican primary challenge since he won the seat by defeating an incumbent lawmaker 14 years ago.
“As long as Gov. Haslam wants to cut $100 million out of taxes on people, cut a billion dollars out of the state budget and shrink government … I’ll carry that water all the way to the White House if he wants me to,” said Montgomery, 65, who is retired from a professional career involving Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

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Carr-Montgomery Debate Turns to Liquor Legislation

SEVIERVILLE — Dale Carr and Richard Montgomery drew distinctions between each other on some previous votes, but also showed common ground in their debate Tuesday night, reports the Mountain Press.
Carr, a Sevierville alderman, and Montgomery, the incumbent, are the Republican candidates for the 12th District seat in the Tennessee House of Representatives. They faced off in a debate sponsored by The Mountain Press and the Sevier County Republican Party. No Democrats qualified to run.
The two showed more distance over some of their previous actions than over issues they could face in Nashville if elected.
Montgomery was questioned on his support of a bill to allow a third liquor referendum for Pigeon Forge, which would come ahead of the normal two-year moratorium since the last vote. Pigeon Forge voters have twice rejected the measure, but Pigeon Forge City Commission voted 4-1 to ask legislators to put it on the November ballot.
The incumbent said he first rejected a bill that would have allowed liquor sales in all tourism development zones in the state. At the time, Pigeon Forge was the only city with a TDZ that didn’t already allow liquor sales.
After that, however, he said he supported the plan to let the city have another vote earlier than the allotted two years. His reason: Turnout is typically higher for a presidential election.
“It’ll be up to the people to make the decisions and not Nashville, and that’s what I’m for.”
Carr said he wouldn’t have taken that step, even with the vote from Pigeon Forge City Commission, because it contravened the voters’ rejection of the measure twice.
“The City Commission … took it upon itself to go against, I think, the will of the people,” he said. “They were pandering to one particular entity.”
Carr had to account for his own vote on a liquor issue, however. Early in his career as an alderman, he supported a request for a private act that would have allowed for the sale of liquor by the drink inside the city’s TDZ. Private acts like the one in question typically name an area without naming the city, making them hard to track. They often move far along the legislative process without the notice of local residents, and that was the case with the one in question.
Carr said the request was already sent to the Legislature when Mayor Bryan Atchley polled aldermen individually to see if they supported it. Local legislators had asked for the phone poll after the private act became public knowledge. He said he told the mayor he didn’t oppose it moving ahead because it was already in the Legislature when he heard of it.
The private act was eventually pulled, but city voters later approved the sale of liquor by the drink in a referendum.

‘Bushwhacked’ Ford Defends ‘Ghost Voting’

State Rep. Dale Ford, R-Jonesborough, tells the Johnson City Press that he was bushwhacked last week by Nashville’s NewsChannel 5 when a reporter suddenly appeared from behind a partition and quizzed him on why his “seat mate” had been casting votes for him in his absence and vice versa.
Ford “clocked in” Rep. Dennis Roach, R-Rutledge, and then repeatedly voted for him. Roach cast a dozen votes that session without ever stepping foot in the chambers, and when he showed up late Ford cleared his desk and left for the night, according to the news report.
“She just jumped out from behind a corner and stuck a microphone in my face,” Ford said Wednesday about the reporter. “It pissed me off. I thought it was very unprofessional.”
Ford said he understood why some people might think the voting procedures could be construed as unethical. But he also said there are times — more times than people know — when the House rules regarding attendance and voting procedures are suspended, making these actions both legal and ethical.
“If a guy is not going to be there, I won’t clock them in or vote for them,” he said. “That’s stealing. When we’re under the rules, I absolutely follow them to the letter.”
…”That’s an accepted practice,” he said. “And even when you’re in the well (podium), somebody has to vote for you. Everybody down there, everybody that’s ever been there, and everybody that ever will be there is going to do it. Sometimes the Sergeant at Arms will tell you there’s someone in the lobby. Sometimes you may be talking with the governor. We’re out from under the rule most of the time. I don’t think people realize.”

Previous post HERE.

House Floor ‘Ghost Voting’ Gets TV Attention

The practice of state legislators casting votes for absent colleagues is known as “ghost voting,” reports WTVF-TV, and “happens in the House chambers probably a lot more often than you think.”
Last year, Tennessee lawmakers passed the controversial voter ID law aimed at eliminating voter fraud.
At the time the legislation was up for consideration, Rep. Debra Maggart, R-Hendersonville, told other House members, “You should be who you say you are when you go vote.”
But when it comes to their own votes, we found House members not only vote for themselves, they also vote for others who are not in their seats. And, sometimes, believe it or not, they even vote for members who are not even there.
Political watchdog and radio talk show host Steve Gill had no idea this was going on.
“I think this is a fraud on the taxpayers,” Gill told NewsChannel 5 Investigates. “I think this is a fraud on the people of Tennessee.
“That’s not what they were sent there to do.”
But Rep. Dale Ford, R-Jonesborough, insists it’s no big deal.
NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked Ford, “You don’t think this is important?”
“No,” he replied. “This is neither illegal or immoral. There’s nothing wrong with it. It’s done all of the time.”
It’s such a common practice in the House, in fact, that many lawmakers have sticks they use to reach each others’ voting buttons.

TBI Chief Mum on Trigger to Ford-Shipley Probe

Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Director Mark Gwyn won’t disclose details concerning what sparked a TBI investigation into allegations of legislative misconduct by state Reps. Tony Shipley and Dale Ford, reports the Kingsport Times-News.
The TBI probe focused on whether the two upstate GOP lawmakers illegally pressured the Tennessee Board of Nursing to reinstate three nurse practitioners suspended from practicing in March 2010. The nursing board took emergency action against the three nurses, who were accused of over-prescribing medications at the now-defunct Appalachian Medical Center in Johnson City. Last month, Davidson County District Attorney General Torry Johnson decided there was no evidence the lawmakers’ actions could sustain criminal charges.
During a recent meeting with members of the Times-News Editorial Board, Gwyn was asked what piece of information triggered the TBI probe and where it came from.
“I cannot comment on that. … To comment on any of it would just not be proper right now,” Gwyn responded during a meeting to tout a public safety action plan put together by Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration

Shipley Named Chairman, Says TBI Should End Investigation

State Rep. Tony Shipley, who is under investigation in a case that questions his dealings with the state Board of Nursing, has been named chairman of a legislative committee that has oversight of all such health-related boards.
Shipley, R-Kingsport, said he views the appointment as a display of confidence in his integrity and innocence by legislative leaders. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation should now publicly state that the probe has turned up no wrongdoing by either him or Rep. Dale Ford, R-Jonesborough, who is also under investigation, he said.
“There’s nothing there and I believe they know that,” said Shipley last week. “It’s not Shipley that’s stinking. It’s other things that are stinking now.”
TBI spokesman Jason Locke said as a matter of general policy the agency launches investigations at the request of a district attorney general and, similarly, would close an investigation and issue a statement of exoneration only with the assent of the district attorney general involved.
“The TBI investigation was originated at the request of District Attorney General Torry Johnson (of Nashville). It is, at this time, still active and ongoing,” Locke said in an email response to a reporter’s inquiries about the Ford-Shipley investigation.
The investigation, initiated in June, revolves around ultimately successful efforts by Shipley and Ford to have the Board of Nursing reinstate the licenses of three upper East Tennessee nurse practitioners.

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Push for TN Welfare Drug Testing to Be Renewed

State Rep. Dale Ford, R-Jonesborough, tells the Bristol Herald-Courier that he’ll try again next year to win passage of a bill requiring drug tests for those receiving welfare, food stames or public housing.
It’s currently being reviewed by the legal department, but Representative Ford says he thinks it will pass. Ford says the first time he introduced the bill questions came up about whether it violated people’s constitutional rights. Since Florida and other states have now implemented it, he doesn’t see a problem legally.
Representative David Hawk also supports such a law. he says drug testing would cut back on people who don’t obey the law from abusing government services.
“If they get assistance through either state or federal means, they should follow a certain set of guidelines and staying with the letter of the law is part of that,” Hawk said.
Hawk says Tennessee made a small step toward a drug testing law this past year. Lawmakers passed a measure stating if someone is convicted of a second drug related offense, they cannot receive funding from the family’s first program.

TBI Probe: Were Legislators Just Doing Their Job or Using Strong-Arm Tactics?

State Reps. Tony Shipley and Dale Ford readily admit they used legislation to prod the state Board of Nursing toward reversing a decision to void the licenses of three Northeast Tennessee nurses.. They told reporters Tuesday that there was nothing inappropriate in their actions, but apparently suggestions of strong-arm tactics by the two Republican lawmakers is what inspired a TBI investigation.
It appears the most thorough account in today’s reporting on the TBI probe comes from the Kingsport Times-News. Excerpts:
In reference to the TBI probe, Shipley said, “The story should be ‘legislator does job,’ you know, as opposed to suggesting that there was anything inappropriate.”
Shipley said he is scheduled to meet with a TBI investigator next week. He said the investigator contacted him by text or e-mail on Monday and said, “‘I want to talk to you about Appalachian Medical.’ ….’ He said, ‘I need to reach out to you.’ There was no questioning. He said, ‘I want to come see you.’ At that time I had no idea what was going on.”
Shipley said he has no plans to retain counsel. “I intend to talk to them, and I feel extremely comfortable that everything we did was in the light of day, it was in front of a lot of people all the time. I mean, I have no concerns about it one way or the other.”
Shipley said prior to learning of this investigation, he was, “pretty much done with this whole issue, you know, these people were beginning to get their lives put back together. Now they’ve turned to bite the hand of the legislators who forced the state to re-evaluate the facts and look at them through the lens of honesty and truth, and that’s exactly what we did.”
He described the health department as a “willing partner” once they realized a mistake had been made.
“We had very strong conversations, but when it was clear that there was evidence available that changed the outcome of their initial ruling, they stepped up to the plate, and they said, we need to fix this. I brought it to the table of course, but they did that on their own,” he said.
With regard to the nurses, Shipley said, “They were denied due process. That is what I fixed. And I would do it again. I will do it again, when confronted with the same situation.”
In May, Shipley said that as an officer of the Government Operations Committee, he “took the position of blocking the extension of the board,” until they agreed to listen to their argument. He said a yearlong battle ensued before the board finally agreed to take another look at the evidence.
During the last three or four months of that period of time, Shipley said he had someone from the Department of Health in his office – from the legislative coordinator “all the way up to a deputy commissioner” – engaged in “sometimes heated discussion” toward that end.
In April, Shipley advocated a House amendment to reduce the number of nursing board members and require having seven board members present before issuing a summary suspension.
But a Senate bill to extend the nursing home board’s life passed in the Legislature without the amendment.
… “Dale Ford, R-Jonesborough, who assisted Shipley’s efforts, opined, “This is clearly a vindictive move (on the nursing board’s part) because Tony and I went after the nursing board for what I thought was overstepping their bounds.
” I was protecting my constituents just like I would do you or them or anybody else. I don’t have anything to be scared about. They can investigate all they want, but I did some digging and everybody who’s been written up who went down to Nashville for a hearing (before the Board of Nursing) since 2003 has been disciplined. Everybody is not guilty.”
“It all stemmed from one thing: I wrote a bill to put in an oversight panel and when they issue a major fine or major penalty of any kind to close your doors, we would look at both sides of the evidence. (The nursing board) said if I would pull that bill they would reconsider the summary suspension on Bob Reynolds, and the state of Tennessee had 38 summary suspensions,” said Ford.

Note: Ford actually filed two bills. He apparently refers to HB428, sponsored by Sen. Rusty Crowe in the Senate, that would have set up a legislative oversight committee to review “acute adverse actions” by state boards, such actions being any fine of more than $1,000 or suspension of license for more than seven days. The legislation was taken “off notice”on March 29.
The Times-News also quotes a TBI spokeswoman as saying the TBI raided the office of Appalachian Medical Center (which employed the nurses) in 2007, with investigators calling it a “pill mill” that contributed to 47 patient deaths in two years. No charges have been filed. That investigation continues.
The Tennessean says the investigation questions whether the legislators’ actions were “strong arm tactics” that went too far and puts the independence of the Board of Nursing in issue.
Sharon Adkins, executive director of the Tennessee Nurses Association, said the profession is closely watching the case.
“It is absolutely unacceptable for special interests to put undue pressure on the board to reverse their judgments,” Adkins said.
The board last year suspended the licenses of Bobby D. Reynolds, Tina Killebrew and David Stout, then reversed itself this May. The three nurses from Johnson City, who have not been charged with any crime, are the focus of an investigation, said Kristin Helm, a spokeswoman for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

The story also refers to Shipley trying to block, for a time, the “sunset” bill to continue the existence of the state Board of Nursing. (It was SB170, passed unanimously in the Senate and on a 77-17 vote in the House. Shipley and Ford voted for the bill; all no votes came from Demcorats.
Rep. Joey Hensley, R-Hohenwald, said Shipley “was leading the charge because he is on the Government Operations Committee. to not extend the Board of Nursing’s ability to continue to exist. All these boards, if their sunset is not extended, they basically cease to exist.”

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TBI Investigating Legislators in Reversing Nurse Licensing Revocation

The TBI is reportedly investigating several state legislators and the state Department of Health about possible “official misconduct and false reporting charges” in the cases of three nurse practitioners whose licenses were revoked for overprescribing drugs, then later reinstated.
WSMV-TV mentions state Reps. Tony Shipley, R-Kingsport, and Dale Ford, R-Jonesborough, in its report and quotes from a Kingsport Times-News article that appeared in May. WTFF and The Tennessean also had short stories reporting the TBI is investigating legislators, but did not name any of lawmakers.
From the WSMV story:
TBI spokeswoman Kristen Helm said the agency is “investigating the facts surrounding the nurses licenses being reinstated to determine if there was any misconduct that rises to a criminal level.”
Tennessee Department of Health spokeswoman Andrea Turner said the department is cooperating fully with the TBI investigation.
“We are providing information and responding to requests as needed to assist in this matter,” said Turner. “It is inappropriate for the department to offer further comment at this time.”
The Channel 4 I-Team spoke with Shipley, who confirmed the TBI is coming to interview him, but he does not think he’s done anything wrong and that the nursing board made the decision to reinstate the nurses’ licenses on their own.
The Channel 4 I-Team has not identified the other lawmakers being interviewed by the TBI.
According to Tennessee Department Health records, the Board of Nursing disciplined registered nurses Bobby Reynolds II, David Stout Jr. and Tina Killebrew last year based on allegations that they had provided substandard care that “caused patients harm, and in the cases of patients T.H. and A.B. contributed to their deaths.” At the time, the three nurses were employed as nurse practitioners at Appalachian Medical Center, 3010 Bristol Highway, Johnson City, according to the Times News.
During a May phone interview with The Times News, Shipley recalled he and state Rep. Dale Ford, R-Jonesborough, were “red-faced furious” with the Board of Nursing upon learning of the situation in late May or early June of last year.
According to the newspaper report, summary suspension orders put them out of a job effective March 11, 2010. Stout and Killebrew’s suspension orders were later set aside in favor of probation, according to minutes from a September 2010 meeting. Terms of their probation included signing of Tennessee Professional Assistance Program monitoring agreements, completion of certain education requirements and payment of costs and fines.
In October 2010, the board affirmed a two-year suspension of Reynolds’ advanced practice certification, voided his multi-state practice privileges and ordered his registered nursing license to be placed on probation pending a Tennessee Professional Assistance Program evaluation. If no monitoring contract was deemed necessary, the order stated probation was not required.
On May 5 of this year, the board finally agreed to retract all disciplinary action taken against the nurses and to restore their licenses to the blemish-free state that existed prior to March 11, 2010. The decision immediately followed the trio’s presentation of petitions citing new evidence concerning the two deceased patients and certain individuals whose testimony factored into the board’s decision to take action against them.