NewsChannel 5 Investigates: Capitol Hill Corruption
Ford Says FedEx Expenditures Not Taxpayers' Business
(Story created: 11/27/03)
You paid for it, but one powerful lawmaker says it's none of your business. That was state Sen. John Ford's reaction to a NewsChannel 5 "You Paid For It" investigation. That investigation put the focus on lawmakers' use of the state's FedEx accounts.
Ford doesn't usually like anyone questioning his ethical conduct.
This week, he repeatedly sidestepped reporters' questions about his use of the state's FedEx accounts.
But in a defiant news conference Wednesday, the Memphis Democrat finally responded.
"For you to expect me to apologize for that, let me tell you: no way. As a matter of fact, I'm proud of it."
Instead, Ford insisted the real problem is the NewsChannel 5 investigation that uncovered the thousands he charged to the state's FedEx accounts. (Ford claimed that it was false that he had spent $2,200 on FedEx in the last year, but you can check out his legislative account summary for yourself.)
"The fact that I may have send something to a relative, they are my constituents also, whether they be here or elsewhere."
As for the charges to send packages from his ex-wife to relatives in South Carolina, Ford insisted he could use his legislative postage allowance for anything he wants.
"There's a fine line between what is political and personal because they are both about the same when it comes to that allowance."
And what about the packages from catalogue companies, like Neiman Marcus and J.Crew?
"Who's to say that J.Crew was personal? Who's to say that Neiman Marcus was personal? I haven't told you that," Ford told reporters.
"Was it?" several asked.
"That's your assumption."
"I'm not going to answer that question."
Fellow Sen. Roscoe Dixon, D-Memphis, joined Ford and suggested that he might want to pay back some of the charges.
"Sometimes with the public's perception, you can be right and still be wrong," Dixon said.
But as reporters pressed Sen. Ford about whether he might be sticking taxpayers with his personal charges, that was it.
"Let me tell you something," Ford said, rising from his chair. "The press conference just ended because I don't like the tone of the question. It just ended."
Legislative administrators say they are concerned about how that postage money is used, which is why they've asked state auditors to review it.
By comparison, when NewsChannel 5 raised questions about just two packages sent by Rep. Donna Rowland, R-Murfreesboro, she immediately reimbursed the state.