Ethics Probe Digs Senator Even Deeper

AP, Mar. 31

MEMPHIS, Tenn.—Over the three decades he has spent in the Tennessee Senate, John Ford has lost paternity lawsuits, given a political job to a girlfriend and successfully been sued for sexual harassment.

So it was not surprising last year when the 62-year-old Democrat testified at a child-support hearing that he has two households—one with a pregnant ex-wife and their three children and another with a longtime girlfriend and their two children. That is in addition to another child he has with a third woman.

But what caught the eye of fellow lawmakers was the release of Mr. Ford’s tax returns at the hearing, showing he received more than $230,000 from a consulting company with financial ties to TennCare, the state’s Medicaid program.

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Mr. Ford’s tax returns show that a company called Managed Care Services Group paid him $237,000 in 2002 and 2003. The consulting group was paid $1.1 million by Doral Dental to promote its bid to win a TennCare contract.

Doral eventually was awarded an exclusive, $6.3 million contract to provide dental coverage to about 620,000 poor and uninsured children through the TennCare program.

The ethics committee’s chairman, Senate Republican Leader Ron Ramsey, says Mr. Ford’s business dealings “don’t pass the smell test.”

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