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Ethics Committee Subpoenas Ford Records

(Story created: 2/17/05)

Powerful state Sen. John Ford is officially the subject of an investigation by the Senate's Ethics Committee. Thursday, the committee issued what may be the first subpoena it has ever issued.

It seeks Ford's income tax records and other evidence from the Juvenile Court in Shelby County, where they were filed as part of a child support hearing.

Ford has been tight-lipped about where he gets his money and why he did not disclose income from a TennCare subcontractor as required by law.

After a complaint was filed this week with the Senate Ethics Committee, the committee's lawyer contacted Juvenile Court.

Authorities there say Ford's lawyer has now filed a motion objecting to any further releases of Ford's financial records.

That led Senate Ethics Committee chairman Ron Ramsey to issue the subpoena.

"The easiest thing to do is to prepare a subpoena, take them down there and get the records that way," said Ramsey, R-Blountville.

"There's no negotiations going on. I'm just trying to follow the letter not only of the law, but the letter of our ethics rules."

Ramsey says he has no reason to believe that Senator Ford would try to block enforcement of the subpoena, but he's prepared to deal with that if necessary.

After the committee's lawyer gathers the records, a three-member subcommittee will meet behind closed doors -- essentially acting as a grand jury -- to decide if there's sufficient evidence to go before a public session of the full committee.

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