Witness: Ford did not disclose consulting income - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Witness: Ford did not disclose consulting income

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Tennessee Registry of Election Finance director Drew Rawlins testified Friday that former state Sen. John Ford did not properly disclose income from two lucrative consulting contracts.

The Memphis Democrat is accused of taking more than $800,000 from TennCare contractors to advance the interests of those companies in the legislature. Ford, 66, has maintained that he was being paid for work outside the state.

Ford's attorney, Assistant Federal Public Defender Isaiah "Skip" Gant, told jurors Ford listed "consulting" as a source of income on at least some of his state-mandated financial disclosures.

It was not until January 2004 that the forms were amended to require officials to list the names of the corporations that were paying them, and Gant sought to show jurors that officials received little notice of the change.

But under questioning by Assistant U.S. Attorney Eli Richardson, Rawlins said it was the state legislature - of which Ford was a member - that passed the new law. He also said Ford signed the financial disclosure forms, attesting to their accuracy.

In separate testimony, former TennCare director Manny Martins told the jury Ford asked him to add more enrollees to Memphis-based managed care organization OmniCare. Contractors with the state's expanded Medicaid program were paid more if they took more enrollees.

However, under cross-examination by Gant, Martins said he had no reason to believe Ford had any more interest in OmniCare than in other managed care organizations in the West Tennessee district he represented.

The state began investigating Ford's dealing with OmniCare and Doral Dental Services, of Mequon, Wis., in 2005 after media reports described his consulting contracts and a citizen lodged an ethics complaint.

Victor Domen, a lawyer in the state attorney general's office who investigated Ford following the complaint, testified on Friday that Ford told him he was supposed to secure contracts for Doral in the Southeast, but not within Tennessee.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Richardson asked Domen what Ford said he was doing for OmniCare.

"He said that he had not done any work for OmniCare in the state of Tennessee," Domen said.


(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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