From The Commercial Appeal:
Former state senator John Ford should be released from prison later this month after more than four years behind bars, his brother said Tuesday.
The Memphis Democrat reported to prison on April 28, 2008, following a bribery conviction. He is expected to be released to a halfway house in less than two weeks, said his brother, Edmund Ford Sr.
“The information I have is he should be here on the 20th,” said Ford, a former city councilman.
Chris Burke, spokesman for the federal Bureau of Prisons, said he can’t comment on a specific pending release but said by law inmates can be released to a halfway house anytime during the last year of their term. Ford’s scheduled release date is Feb. 8, 2013. Following time in a halfway house, inmates typically are transferred to home confinement to finish out their term, Burke said.
Ford, 70, resigned in 2005 from the state senate where he’d served over parts of four decades following his indictment in the FBI’s Tennessee Waltz bribery sting. Convicted in 2007 of accepting $55,000 in cash payoffs from an undercover agent posing as a corrupt businessman seeking tailored legislation, Ford is the last of 12
While Bob Corker prepares for a ho-hum reelection (recent post HERE), the man he narrowly defeated back in 2006, Harold Ford Jr., is doing his thing and still showing a conservative political streak up in New York…. and Jackson Baker has an update on Ford six years later. Even during his 2006 Senate run, Ford was at pains to distance himself from Democratic orthodoxy, vowing, during the opening of his Memphis campaign headquarters that year, “I’m not a Democrat … running up to Washington yelling, ‘Democrat, Democrat, Democrat, Democrat.’ Somebody’s going to go, and I know I make some Democrats upset at times, because I’m just a believer if it works, you have to support it.”
As a congressman, Ford supported President Bush’s policies in Iraq more vigorously than most of his party mates. Inter alia, he voted for the Bankruptcy Act of 2005, which imposed new restrictions on debtors, sided with the Republicans on the Terri Schiavo case, voted for some restrictions on abortion, and advocated drilling for oil in the Arctic wilderness.
On the stump in Tennessee in 2006, Ford opposed same-sex marriage, and, when he attempted to jump-start a Senate candidacy in New York in 2010, that position came back to haunt him. He was basically booed off the stage when he attempted to address a group of gays in New York City. By last year, he had amended his position on the issue and became the spokesperson for a marriage-equality campaign in a TV ad — a possible indication, along with his 2010 memoir, More Davids than Goliaths: A Political Education, that he still intends an active electoral career.
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.
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.
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.
State Sen. Ophelia Ford told a Senate committee Tuesday that a bill to increase penalties for assaulting health care professionals is “ludicrous,” and said she was treated by “mean and hateful nurses” in recent years.
From the Rick Locker report: “I’m not telling it all, because it was so horrible you could not even believe it,” said Ford, D-Memphis.
She added later that she was restrained during a hospital stay during which “I didn’t even know where I was.” She said that “there are kind nurses too, and usually they know how to handle themselves.”
Senate Bill 2658, proposed by the Tennessee Nurses Association, would enhance penalties for assault and aggravated assault against health care providers acting in the discharge of their duties. It won narrow 5-4 approval in the Senate Judiciary Committee despite Ford’s objections during a 30-minute debate.
Sen. Doug Overbey, R-Maryville, said federal Bureau of Labor Statistics figures indicate that the health care sector leads all other industries in the number of employees subjected to nonfatal assaults.
But Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville, joined Ford in arguing against the bill, saying perpetrators of assault should be punished equally regardless of who the victim is.
…Ford’s long, rambling descriptions of her experiences with extended hospital and nursing home rehabilitation stays starting in 2006 generated the most interest in the room. It was reminiscent of previous eyebrow-raising speeches in which Ford has linked personal experiences to legislation.
“I would not be in your presence today because of mean, hateful nurses, and the lower on the scale they are with the least amount of experience, the worse they are.
“Most of you know I’ve had several illnesses, back in 2008, in and out of the hospital in 2006 and 2007… I cannot tell you the horrific experience I’ve had and it was nurses who were mainly doing these things to me. I knew that such happens but I just didn’t know it was so horrible.”
News release from Reps. Dale Ford and Tony Shipley:
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – After learning of the Davidson County District Attorney’s announcement there will be no criminal charges against them, Representative Dale Ford (R–Jonesborough) and Representative Tony Shipley (R–Kingsport) today released the following joint statement:
“We are glad to see the District Attorney’s full accounting of the facts involved with this case led him to conclude there was never any wrongdoing here. As we have maintained from the beginning of this ordeal, we were never in the wrong.
“Standing up for the rights of our constituents should never be subject to these types of allegations and it is encouraging the D.A. arrived at the same conclusion.
“We vow to continue doing our jobs to the best of our abilities and serving the needs of our constituents in Upper East Tennessee. It is an honor to serve the people of our respective districts and we are always available to help them.”
Earlier post HERE.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Charges will not be filed against two state lawmakers who used heavy-handed tactics to help three nurse practitioners get their licenses back, the Davidson County District Attorney General said Monday.
Bobby Reynolds II, David Stout Jr. and Tina Killebrew were accused of over-prescribing medications at the now-defunct Appalachian Medical Clinic in Johnson City, where the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation was probing patient deaths. The nurses agreed to the suspensions, but Reps. Dale Ford and Tony Shipley later pressured the Tennessee Board of Nursing to take a second look.
Ford filed a bill to create a committee that would review the board’s disciplinary actions. And Shipley tried to stall legislation that would have extended the life of the nursing board.
Davidson County District Attorney General Torry Johnson said in a news release that Shipley’s and Ford’s actions were questionable, but not criminal.
Shipley said they did nothing wrong.
“There were no questionable tactics on our part,” he said. …”All we asked was that (the nurses) be given a fair and open hearing.”
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.
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.