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NASHVILLE (AP) — A big stack of documents produced by state investigators paint a picture of TennCare contractors more willing to spin the truth than divulge ties to Sen. John Ford.

One contractor linked to Ford, Doral Dental, said earlier this year that it wasn't aware of any improper links to Ford. But it was later revealed Ford held meetings with the company's highest ranking officers, and the company sought to keep the arrangement secret.

Doral blamed executives no longer with the company.

It took multiple requests, along with a state attorney general's investigation, to finally get another contractor that had a deal with Ford to fully divulge the relationship. That company, Memphis-based OmniCare (which has since been renamed UACH Health Plan of Tennessee), at first told state officials there was absolutely no connection to Ford.

UAHC has repeatedly blamed the misrepresentation on a fired executive, Osbie Howard, who was close to Ford.

The attorney general's report was going to be used as evidence to oust Ford from the Senate. Since Ford's arrest on separate federal bribery charges, the documents have become part of ongoing investigations.

Officials at TennCare, along with state investigators, say they can't talk about the report in detail because the investigation is ongoing.

So far no charges have been filed over the flow of money from state contractors to Ford, although the FBI and state investigators have been gathering more information.

And no other deals have been found like the two that saw Sen. John Ford collect as much as $800,000 from two TennCare management companies. But that doesn't mean they don't exist, officials said.

Ever since revelations started seeping into the news early this year that Ford was linked to TennCare money, the suspect contractors have been slow — and in some cases deceptive — in revealing their ties to Ford.

"Who knows what's really happening there," said TennCare director J.D. Hickey. "At the highest level we are absolutely concerned."

All the TennCare contractors have been asked in recent months to disclose any financial ties to Ford or other lawmakers. All have sent back letters saying they are clean.

"Absolutely we are concerned, on multiple fronts at this point," Hickey said. "It's been exceedingly difficult to get information."

In the attorney general's report, prepared as part of a Senate Ethics Committee probe, a Doral Dental executive is caught in an e-mail seemingly hoping that other companies get caught paying Ford.

Then-company President Ronald Brummeyer writes on March 9 "it would not surprise me if OmniCare and other HMOs are paying Ford — once it is found out where the other $800,000 is coming from it will at least take a bit of the focus off of us."

It's not clear what he meant by the "other $800,000," and he did not name any other companies.

The same Doral executives had bragged in e-mails two years earlier about Ford's effectiveness at pushing their agenda in legislative hearings.

On Feb. 12, as news reports get closer to the extent of the relationship, one Doral Dental executive writes "Right now we can't overreact to the situation ... we need to stay close to the situation and monitor the situation and react accordingly but let's not play any of our cards until we see what others are dealt."

Shortly after, Doral had parted ways with the key executives involved in the contract with Ford's Managed Care Services Group, which had also been fired. The company was operating under a new owner, DentaQuest.

"The former owners carefully and systematically withheld information about the relationship between Senator Ford and the Managed Care Services Group from the management and the new owners," Doral spokesman Michael Pflughoeft said Friday.

Hickey has already announced big changes in the way TennCare deals with its management companies, including tough new contracts that feature stringent ethics language and bigger penalties.

The deals will affect all the management companies, not just those proven to have ties to Ford.

"We have been a vulnerable institution for a long time," he said. "This is an extremely large institution with a lot of dollars flowing through it."

Timeline of Sen. John Ford's deals
A timeline of Sen. John Ford's business deals. It was put together using the state attorney general's report and from charges in a federal indictment against Ford.


—Sen. John Ford: Memphis Democrat who served in the state Senate for more than 30 years. Charged in a federal corruption sting separate from his deals linked to TennCare contractors.

—Doral Dental: TennCare management company located in Milwaukee suburbs. Owned by Boston-based DentaQuest Ventures. TennCare will not renew the company's contract.

—OmniCare: Memphis-based managed care organization that used to be run by Osbie Howard, who helped steer the deals to Ford. The company is now known as UAHC Health Plan and is owned by United American Healthcare Corp. of Detroit.

—Managed Care Services Group (MCSG): Partnership involving Ford, and two former executives of OmniCare.


—Sept. 7, 2001: Ford signs a $15,000 consulting deal with Johnson Controls, telling the company he makes about $400,000 a year for this type of work. The company is seeking state contracts with public universities, although Ford says his contract is unrelated. Ford later tells investigators he has been doing consulting work for 15 years.

—May 1, 2001: Ford vehemently argues against the idea of carving out TennCare dental benefits.

—Dec. 3, 2001: Former OmniCare CEO Ronald Dobbins starts Managed Care Services Group in Pennsylvania. Sen. John Ford joins as a partner soon after. At some point, then-OmniCare CEO Osbie Howard also joins.

—Dec. 21, 2001: Doral Dental signs consulting agreement with Managed Care Services Group. Over several years, Doral sends $1.1 million to Managed Care Services Group.

—March 11, 2002: Doral executive Craig Kasten touts Ford's connections as a senator, brother of former U.S. Rep. Harold Ford and uncle of current U.S. Rep. Harold Ford. Jr. But he warns company insiders that "based on recent disclosures about fees paid to John Ford with respect to the TennCare pharmacy services vendor, we need to keep a very low key approach on this issue. I have spoken to Osbie (Howard) this afternoon and there is no concern on his end. According to Sen. Ford the deal is progressing nicely and it will be ours. I love that kind of optimism, but I don't think we should take anything for granted on this deal. I will retain this agreement (between Ford and Doral) in my office. Please keep the existence of this arrangement confidential."

—April 1, 2002: Ford signs $8,500 a month consulting deal with TennCare contractor OmniCare.

—Sept. 9, 2002: Doral executive Ronald Brummeyer seems to confirm in company e-mail that MCSG consulting deal is for work on Tennessee contract.

—April 3, 2002: Ford changes his mind on dental carve-out and now argues in Senate hearing for the plan which eventually allows Doral to get state contract.

—April 12, 2003: Ford reports $278,937 in 2002 consulting income to IRS on return prepared by Osbie Howard.

—April 23, 2002: To the delight of Doral executives, Ford touts Illinois' dental program run by Doral Dental. "He turned that meeting around," Doral co-founder Craig Kasten says in an e-mail.

—April 25, 2002: Doral executives say in e-mails that Ford has agreed to tout Doral's success in other states to Tennessee reporters.

—Sept. 8, 2003: Brummeyer brags about Ford and Howard helping the company avoid an unnamed lawsuit. "(Former TennCare director) Manny (Martins) ought to be impressed that Doral can handle political issues that he could only dream of handling."

—Jan. 1, 2004: OmniCare boosts payments to Ford to $10,000 a month. Then company President Osbie Howard later tells state investigators that Ford helped set up meetings with Tennessee officials.

—April 15, 2004: Ford reports $188,373 in income for Managed Care Services Group and $149,765 in other consulting income.

—April 19, 2004: Ford tells undercover FBI agents, working an elaborate corruption sting, that they are talking to "the guy that makes the deals."

—Nov. 4, 2004: New Doral owners meet with Ford and later say they are surprised Ford attended meeting involving Managed Care Services Group, but the contract continues.

—July 17, 2004: Ford tells undercover FBI agents he would need $3,000 to $5,000 a month to help them pass laws favorable to their company, a front set up to catch crooked lawmakers.

—Aug. 19, 2004: Ford tells undercover FBI operatives that he would draft legislation for their company. Ford takes $10,000 as payment for two months work. Ford allegedly receives $45,000 more through April 2005.

—Jan. 13: Ford files bill for FBI front company, called E-Cycle

—Jan. 22: Ford, trying to fight off an increase in child support for one of his many children, argues in juvenile court against the release of his income tax records. Disclosure "would expose all of my business interests and everything. It would put me in imminent danger of a lot of different things I don't want to explain in here," Ford told the court.

—Feb. 6: First news reports connect Ford to Dobbins and Managed Care Services Group.

—Feb. 8: Doral terminates agreement with Ford amid mounting publicity.

—Feb. 12: Doral continues to work on strategy to deal with increasing media scrutiny about Ford deal. "Right now we can't overreact to the situation ... we need to stay close to the situation and monitor the situation and react accordingly but let's not play any of our cards until we see what others are dealt," one executive writes.

—Feb. 28: Brummeyer now says publicly that Doral's deal was only with Dobbins, not Ford.

—March 1: Brummeyer tells others in company not to judge the MCSG deal amid mounting pressure. "I would think everyone agrees that the relationship and what was paid for the relationship did not bring value."

—March 9: Ford acknowledges publicly for the first time that he shared consulting money from MCSG. But he insists it is for work done in other states.

—March 9: Brummeyer writes "this will become a race issue and it would not surprise me if OmniCare and other HMOs are paying Ford — once it is found out where the other $800,000 is coming from it will at least take a bit of the focus off of us."

—March 10: Ford takes another payment from undercover FBI agents

—March 12: First news reports of Ford's deal with Johnson Controls.

—March 16: Ford proclaims to the Senate Ethics Committee that "I have integrity that has been impugned by others" and that "I've done no wrong, I've violated no laws." He also declares that his consulting never had anything to do with TennCare. The very next day, undercover FBI agents say Ford took another bribery payment from them.

—March 23: Doral releases internal investigation, pins the Ford deals on Brummeyer and other executives it has fired or parted ways with. Says current managers still don't understand Ford deal.

—April 15: OmniCare, now owned by United American Healthcare Corporation, now reveals its contract with Ford. At same time it says Howard has been forced out and Ford's contract was terminated March 1. Company still maintains Ford's deal was for work in other states, but can't prove it. Payments to Ford totaled $420,500. The company says it does not have deals with any other lawmakers.

—May 24: Ford tells investigators from attorney general's office that he has never lobbied on behalf of Johnson Controls to influence state business. He also maintains his deals with OmniCare and Doral were only for work in other states.

May 26, 2005 — Ford and three other lawmakers are hauled away in handcuffs on their way to the Capitol. The elaborate FBI sting was unrelated to Ford's consulting deals. There are no criminal charges involving Ford's deals with OmniCare, Doral Dental, Johnson Controls or Managed Care Services Group.

Sources: Tennessee attorney general's report to the Senate Ethics Committee, federal indictments.