Attorney General issues report on Ford for Senate committee

The Senate Ethics Committee should proceed with caution if it wants to take up allegations of misconduct against state Sen. John Ford of Memphis, an attorney general's report states. Attorney General Paul Summers' summary report released Thursday shows that Ford appeared to be communicating with various Tennessee officials on behalf of TennCare contractors OmniCare and Doral Dental. Ford denied most of the claims and said that the consulting fees received for work on Doral Dental's behalf and OmniCare were for work performed outside of the state. The report came as Ford and three other Tennessee lawmakers, a former lawmaker and two others were indicted amid a federal bribery investigation. Summers warned of proceeding while a criminal investigation is ongoing. "It should be repeated that if the committee decides to proceed with a hearing of this matter, it should be mindful of the potential impact upon any possible state criminal proceedings," the report said. "As noted, any witnesses or documents subpoenaed under the committee's subpoena power results in criminal immunity for such testimony or documentation in any prosecution in state courts." Senate Majority Leader Ron Ramsey, who chairs the Senate Ethics Committee, said he was briefed on the report late Wednesday night but had not had the opportunity to completely read through it. "The Ethics Committee will be looking to evaluate all these issues," Ramsey said.