Yesterday we discussed the curious case of Democrat Ken Hodges, candidate for Attorney General (Website | Facebook | LinkedIn | Twitter), and the mystifying actions he allegedly took in his official capacity as the then-District Attorney of Dougherty County in a matter of whistle blowers and Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital in Albany.
As the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals considers Hodges’ arguments that he is immune from liability in this matter, that he did not abuse his power by issuing subpoenas for a non existent Grand Jury and indict whistle blower Charles Rehberg for a matter where there was absolutely no evidence, and after the latter took issue with the billing practices of the employer of Hodges’ wife (Phoebe Putney), it now appears that someone else at that point was also trying to examine Rehberg and Bagnato’s underlying point concerning the billing practices of non profit hospitals in Georgia.
Republican candidate for Governor, State Rep. Austin Scott (Website | Facebook |Twitter) has been trying for years to uncover the allegedly systemic abuse of some non-profit hospitals like Phoebe Putney with regard to their charitable obligations as tax-exempt entities.
[Note: Scott is an advertiser on Peach Pundit]
Scott’s interest in Phoebe Putney’s billing practices started, coincidentally, around the same time as Rehberg and Dr. John Bagnato became interested in the same issue. At the time, Phoebe Putney was doing business with then Democrat Majority Leader in the Georgia Senate, Charles Walker, Democrat State Senator George Hooks, and former Democrat Speaker of the Georgia House and now Deputy Commissioner at the Georgia Department of Agriculture, Terry Coleman. You’ll recall that Walker, an Augusta Democrat, was indicted in 2004 on 142-counts alleging numerous fraudulent schemes and tax evasion and convicted a year later.
[Note: In no way is this post to actually suggest any malfeasance on the part of Walker, Coleman or Hooks with Phoebe Putney or any other entity.]
Regardless, by September, 2004, Phoebe Putney was worried about the whistle blower claims made by Rehberg and Bagnato. Meanwhile, Austin Scott was conducting his own similar investigation into the relationship between appropriations from the then-Democrat controlled legislature to non profit entities like Phoebe Putney. As the electoral tide in Georgia was turning for the first time since Reconstruction, serious concerns were raised about the impact of these simultaneous investigations by ordinary citizens as well as an elected official.
In a September 20, 2004 e-mail, Charlie Hayslett, the CEO of the public relations firm Hayslett Group, which represents the Georgia Alliance of Community Hospitals, discussed the status of the story and the potential damaging impact it could have as additional information was learned about the relationship between Democrats in the General Assembly and community “non profit” hospitals in Georgia.
In particular, Hayslett noted:
The discovery phase of the countersuit will almost certainly pull Jim Velghe and the ex-FBI agents into the spotlight, but it’s the contract story that is particularly troublesome; it holds the potential to produce shock waves that will be felt across the states. If Rep. Scott, a Republican, is smart (or getting good advise), he will announce that he is filing identical open records requests with every other community hospital in Georgia — and if he gets similar results, it will produce a statewide story with the potential to impact state legislative races in November and tip the balance of power in the House to the GOP. I don’t think this is an exaggeration. I think the steps we talked through this afternoon are appropriate, and I think it’s especially important that the PR team have an opportunity to evaluate the open records material before it goes to Scott.
Interestingly, included in the e-mail distribution was Bob Baudino of Baudino Law Group, the very law firm which later hired…Ken Hodges! Baudino, you’ll recall, also represents Phoebe Putney, where Hodges’ wife worked.
Also of note is that C. Rick Langley was included on the e-mail distribution…the same C. Rick Langley who represented Phoebe Putney and was allegedly billed by Ken Hodges’ office for records collection related to subpoenas issued by the latter to identify the Phoebe Putney whistle blowers. Indeed, this correspondence from Hodges’ Chief Investigator to Langley forwarded “a bill from Bellsouth for phone records requested by Steve
What is suspected, but cannot be confirmed, is that the “Steve Chenoweth” referenced on the letter from Hodges’ Chief Investigator (the one who “requested” the results of the subpoenas) is Stephen Chenoweth, Senior Vice President of Work Dynamics. What does Work Dynamics do?
Work Dynamics, Inc. is a private consulting firm that assist healthcare corporations meet current challenges and opportunities involving the human side of the organization to include: governing boards, physicians, employees and management. The firm is a unique blend of seasoned and highly experienced professionals who utilize state of the art technology and advanced diagnostic tools to formulate effective strategies and tactics designed to address issues, solve problems and achieve strategic objectives.
Remember how we discussed yesterday that Rehberg was allegedly accosted by representatives of Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital in his own parking lot on the evening of August 9, 2004? These individuals, allegedly retired Federal agents, supposedly demanded that Rehberg accompany them to a meeting with Phoebe Putney representatives, threatened him with criminal prosecutions, mentioned his family by name and attempted to force him to sign an “Immunity Agreement” immediately.
Well, keeping that in mind, let’s learn more about Stephen Chenoweth:
Mr. Chenoweth is Senior Vice President of Work Dynamics, Inc. He is retired from the Federal Bureau of Investigation. While with the FBI, Mr. Chenoweth served in various leadership capacities to include Supervisor in the Phoenix Division. He is a nationally recognized and accomplished investigator featured in documentary movies involving the FBI. In the course of his FBI career, he has managed SWAT teams, hostage negotiations and conducted a variety of investigations involving bank robberies, organized crime, fugitives, and complicated white collar crimes. Mr. Chenoweth manages and consults in the following firm services: Preventive Labor Relations, Corporate Crisis Management, and Corporate Investigative Services.
Corporate Crisis Management and Corporate Investigative Services, indeed! And, allegedly, we should add, maintaining some sort of relationship concerning the results of subpoenas with Ken Hodges’ Chief Investigator in the Office of the District Attorney of Dougherty County.
If you think this is too much of a stretch, remember the comment in Hayslett’s e-mail concerning “Jim Velghe and the ex-FBI agents?” Well, guess who is president of Work Dynamics, Inc.? James C. Velghe, Sr.
But back to the point of this…the discussion of Scott in the e-mail from Hayslett.
It is most impressive that the efforts of Rep. Scott to bring some sunshine on the billing practices of community hospitals and those hospital’s relationships with appropriators in the General Assembly caused such worry and angst in some corners. It also speaks to the kind of Governor he could be in bringing reform and conservative values to the executive branch of Georgia’s government. It also makes much more understandable why the Georgia Alliance of Community Hospitals allegedly heavily bankrolled the candidacy of Michael Spinks in 2004 to run against Scott.
Back in 2004, Scott’s investigation was enough to leave certain people very worried that the issue he was pursuing was big enough to sweep Democrats out of power. Now, just last year, Scott introduced HR 75 on January 16, 2009 (before the recent scandal concerning Glenn Richardson), which would allow the State Attorney General to impanel a state-wide grand jury to investigate “corruption in the executive, legislative, or judicial branch of the state, any political subdivision or municipality of the state, or any authority or instrumentality of the state…”
Noting Austin Scott’s impressive impact on the matter of charitable obligations for tax-exempt hospitals, the only question is if Georgia wants someone like Ken Hodges to be at the helm of any such grand jury as the next Attorney General of Georgia.
Think we’re done yet? Check back later this week for a footnote.