State Reps Escape Prosecution for Pressuring Nursing Board to Help Friends

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Reps. Tony Shipley and Dale Ford
  • Reps. Tony Shipley and Dale Ford
Prosecutors have decided against filing charges against Republican Reps. Tony Shipley and Dale Ford for pressuring state regulators to reinstate the licenses of three nurses accused of over-prescribing pills at a now-closed Johnson City clinic. To help the nurses, one of whom went to church with Shipley, he tried to shut down the Board of Nursing. Ford, whose sister worked at the clinic, was content to try to strip the board of its power.

Republicans never seemed too worried about the investigation into whether Shipley's and Ford's hardball tactics amounted to official misconduct. In the middle of it, House leaders thumbed their noses at investigators by naming Shipley the chairman of a special joint committee overseeing health-related boards. Shipley, who seems badly in need of anger management therapy, claimed to be the victim of some kind of political witch hunt.

In deciding not to bring charges today, Davidson County DA Torry Johnson said Shipley's and Ford's actions were "questionable but not criminal." Words to live by! From Johnson's statement:

“The Board of Nursing is responsible for protecting the public from the dangers of unfit, incompetent, or unprofessional nurses. In this case, the Board did precisely that, only to be subjected to heavy-handed tactics by two state legislators, aided and abetted by some former employees of the Department of Health. Regrettably, both the Board and the Department of Health caved to perceived political pressure and set aside the previous discipline that all parties had agreed to. This is not how government is supposed to work, but it is not a crime since these lawmakers did not personally benefit from their actions nor did they individually have the actual power to harm the Board, the Department, or its employees. In the end, this is a case of political hardball, but not political corruption.”

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