Davidson County District Attorney General Torry Johnson found no evidence for criminal charges in an investigation related to state Reps. Tony Shipley and Dale Ford, as well as employees of the state's Department of Health.
But Johnson did deem their actions “questionable.”
On June 22, 2011, Johnson asked for a full-scale TBI investigation into the actions of Shipley, Ford and the DOH regarding whether lawmakers illegally pressured the Board of Nursing to reinstate three nurse practitioners it had previously suspended from practice.
TBI agents conducted an investigation into the deaths of patients at the now-defunct Appalachian Medical Clinic in Johnson City. The Tennessee Board of Nursing took emergency action against three nurses who were accused of over prescribing medicine at the clinic in March 2010.
The nurses signed statements of fact acknowledging inappropriate conduct and accepted a form of “strict probation designed to allow them to resume practice in the future, provided they met numerous terms and conditions,” a press release from the DA’s office said.
Reps. Ford and Shipley sought to overturn those orders and contacted various employees of the Department of Health. The representatives also filed bills related to the nursing board and disciplinary actions taken against license holders.
The nursing board overturned the violations against the nurses at a meeting on May 5.
“The Board of Nursing is responsible for protecting the public from the dangers of unfit, incompetent, or unprofessional nurses,” Johnson said. “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.”