Skip to comments.Ford requests reversal of state fine
Posted on 06/21/2005 3:14:22 PM PDT by SmithL
NASHVILLE - Former state Sen. John Ford has asked a state board to reverse the $10,000 fine assessed against him last month for using campaign funds to cover some expenses of his daughter's wedding.
The "petition for waiver or withdrawal of penalty," dated June 16 and signed by attorney Edward M. Bearman of Memphis, was received by the Registry of Election Finance on Monday.
Ford, D-Memphis, resigned from the Senate on May 28, two days after being arrested on bribery and extortion charges in connection with an FBI sting operation.
The $10,000 fine was assessed by the Registry board on May 11 and Ford told reporters later that day the penalty was "stupid" and would be appealed. The board had voted 4-3 to impose the penalty after deciding that fraud was involved.
"Sen. Ford is not guilty of fraud," the petition says.
Bearman's petition centers around a state law that says that campaign finance disclosure reports are "deemed to be sufficient, absent a showing of fraud" if filed for 180 days without being subject of a legal challenge or complaint.
The petition says the claim of fraud is invalid, thus the Ford disclosure could not be challenged because more than 180 days had lapsed since it was filed.
Registry board members supporting the penalty contended that fraud occurred in the way Ford had reported expenditures on his daughter's wedding - totaling $15,320 - on his 2004 campaign disclosure.
The chief example cited by Registry members was $875 listed on Ford's form as going to "Awesome Videos" when the full name of the firm is "Awesome Wedding Videos." Some Registry members contended that omission of the word "wedding" was intended to fraudulently cover up the nature of the expenditure.
In the petition, Bearman argues that Ford was not given proper legal notice that there was any allegation of fraud against him "and, therefore, the penalty is inappropriate and should be withdrawn."
Further, he contends that under Tennessee law, "fraud requires an intentional misrepresentation of a material fact" and there is no evidence of an intentional misrepresentation by Ford. Bearman describes the omission of "wedding" as "a minor error."
Registry Director Drew Rawlins was out of the office on Monday and unavailable for comment. Under normal procedures, however, the petition would be presented to the Registry board for its consideration at its next monthly meeting, scheduled for July 13.
Ed Yarbrough, who served as Ford's attorney at the May 11 Registry meeting, made arguments similar to the contentions in the Bearman petition during his presentation to the panel.
It's amazing how our brilliant "betters" suddenly don't know what makes water boil when they get in trouble.
What's he complaining about? That's still a savings of $5,320!
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