Monday, April 23, 2007

Your Gov't at Work -- Statism

How does business get done at your local State Capitol?
Certainly, nothing like this could happen in the hallowed halls of Congress!?!
The story below is about a trial of a state Tennessee senator, one of many caught up in an FBI corruption sting operation called Tennesee Waltz.
It's some sad reading:
By Trevor Aaronson, Memphis, TN

April 23, 2007

Calling FBI agent Mark Jackson to the witness stand this morning, Asst. U.S. Atty. Tim DiScenza used the lawman as a summary witness to present a timeline that summed up the government's case against former state Sen. John Ford:

  • April 19, 2004 — FBI undercover agent L.C. McNeil introduces himself to state Sen. John Ford at a dinner in Nashville arranged by state Rep. Kathryn Bowers.

  • July 17, 2004 — In Miami, Ford asks McNeil for $3,000 to $5,000 per month to draft and pass state legislation that would benefit E-Cycle. Ford expresses interest in E-Cycle's initial public offering.

  • July 28, 2004 — "I'm ready when you get back to get that done," Ford tells McNeil in a phone conversation, referring to the E-Cycle legislation.

  • Aug. 18, 2004 — Ford tells McNeil he wants to be paid $10,000 upfront and $5,000 each month. Ford then explains which committee the bill will go to and reaffirms that he will sponsor the legislation.

  • Aug. 19, 2004 — McNeil pays first cash payment made to Ford: $10,000. Ford takes an E-Cycle brochure and company paperwork, drafted by the FBI, describing the legislation E-Cycle wants.

  • Aug. 23, 2004 — Ford calls McNeil and tells him he met with the General Assembly's legal department to talk about the E-Cycle legislation.

  • Aug. 26, 2004 — In a telephone conversation, Ford tells McNeil the rough draft of the legislation will be available next week so E-Cycle can review it.

  • Sept. 7, 2004 — Ford asks McNeil for his fax number to send the draft legislation.

  • Sept. 17, 2004 — McNeil pays Ford $5,000. Ford reads the draft legislation to McNeil and agrees with the undercover agent that the bill should be amended so public schools will not receive surplus computers.

  • Sept. 28, 2004 — Ford and McNeil discuss the proposed legislation in a phone call. Ford says he'll fax a new draft of the bill to McNeil.

  • Oct. 6, 2004 — A summary of the legislation is faxed to E-Cycle's office.

  • Oct. 15, 2004 — McNeil pays Ford $5,000. Ford discusses making the legislation more exclusive for E-Cycle.

  • Nov. 9, 2004 — Ford says the E-Cycle bill will be filed in January with "a bunch of bills" so it won't draw attention, he tells McNeil in a phone conversation.

  • Nov. 11, 2004 — In a phone conversation, Ford asks McNeil to send him more money.

  • Nov. 17, 2004 — Ford tell McNeil in a phone conversation he will not pre-file the bill since it would allow the news media and others to look at the proposed legislation.

  • Nov. 19, 2004 — Ford gives McNeil the final draft of the legislation. McNeil pays Ford $5,000 at E-Cycle's Memphis office.

  • Dec. 16, 2004 — Ford reassures McNeil the legislation will pass.

  • Dec. 17, 2004 — McNeil pays Ford $5,000 at a Miami hotel.

  • Jan. 6, 2005 — Ford tells McNeil in a phone conversation he will file "our bill this week, this next week."

  • Jan. 12, 2005 — Ford pre-files Senate Bill 28. In a phone conversation, he tells McNeil the bill was filed.

  • Jan. 13, 2005 — Ford tells McNeil in a phone conversation he will put a clause in the bill that will give E-Cycle more exclusivity. "We filed it, and we just pulled the other bill," Ford says of the revised legislation.

  • Jan. 18, 2005 — The state Department of General Services recommends against passage of E-Cycle's bill.

  • Jan. 19, 2005 — Ford pre-files Senate Bill 94 with the definition of computer equipment identical to the list of equipment in E-Cycle's brochure.

  • Jan. 31, 2005 — McNeil pays Ford $5,000 in E-Cycle's Nashville office.

  • Feb. 1, 2005 — McNeil pays Ford $5,000 in his Senate office in Nashville.

  • Feb. 3, 2005 — Ford expresses to Willis concerns McNeil might be working with law enforcement and E-Cycle might be an FBI shell company. A fiscal note is filed in the General Assembly, indicating the E-Cycle bill would increase state expenditure.

  • Sometime after Feb. 3, 2005 — Ford aggressively questions General Services Commissioner Gwendolyn Sims Davis about the fiscal note and tells her she does not know "what the hell" she is doing.

  • Feb. 14, 2005 — Ford tells McNeil he'll get a new fiscal note.

  • Feb. 17, 2005 — Ford tells McNeil he talked to Senate staff about changing the fiscal note.

  • March 9, 2005 — Ford tells James White, executive director of the Fiscal Review Committee of the Tennessee General Assembly, to change the fiscal note.

  • March 10, 2005 — Ford threatens McNeil, who pays Ford $5,000 in E-Cycle's Memphis office.

  • March 15, 2005 — Ford presents Senate Bill 94 to the Senate State and Local Government Committee, then chaired by state Sen. Steve Cohen. It passes 9-0. Ford learns McNeil is coming to Nashville. In a phone conversation, Ford asks FBI informant Tim Willis why McNeil is traveling to the capital. "Hell, we passed the bill. What's his concerns?" Ford asks Willis.

  • March 16, 2005 — At McNeil's request, Ford agrees to delay the bill.

  • March 17, 2005 — McNeil pays Ford $5,000 at the Sheraton Hotel in Nashville.

  • March 23, 2005 — Rosemary Bates, Ford's research analyst, e-mails Senate Chief Clerk Russell Humphrey asking him to keep E-Cycle's bill off the legislative calendar.

  • April 8, 2005 — Ford threatens to kill FBI undercover agents McNeil and Joe Carson. Ford agrees to delay legislation. McNeil pays Ford $5,000 outside The Peabody.

  • May 26, 2005 — FBI agents arrest Ford in Nashville.

You should really send this to all your friends.  It clearly illustrates how business uses government favors to protect them (read, profits) from competition.  This is an example of "Statist Businessmen." 
Big Rattler

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