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Ford Could Surrender Tax Records Soon

(Story created: 3/2/05)

Senate investigators say they expect state Senator John Ford to voluntarily surrender tax records by next week.

It's all part of the ethics committee investigation into whether the Memphis Democrat may have secretly profited from a TennCare contract.

The Senate ethics committee had issued a subpoena for those records, but on Wednesday ethics committee chairman Ron Ramsey handed Ford a letter asking him to voluntarily turn over tax returns for the last three years.

He says Ford graciously agreed to provide them by Monday.

This came on a day that House and Senate Republicans unveiled a series of ethics proposals.

While Republican leaders didn't target Ford by name, one of their proposals would require lawmakers to be more specific in disclosing their sources of income.

It would also prohibit contingency contracts for lobbyists, like Ford's business partner Ron Dobbins, where they get paid big, only if they are successful.

It would also clarify residency requirements.  All that came as lawmakers are asking their constituents to be patient on the Ford investigation.

"All of us would like to have immediate action, but sometimes you have to let the rules take place and due process and even Senator Ford deserves that," said Senator Jeff Miller of Cleveland.

After receiving the tax returns, senators say they'll compare those to Ford's own ethics disclosures.

Then, a subcommittee of the ethics committee would meet, like a grand jury, to decide if there's basis for formal charges to go to the full committee.

Senator Ford would have 20 days to respond before a full blown meeting of the ethics committee would occur.

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