Blog — Ethics

June 02, 2016

Florida Medicaid Initiative Tied to Rep. Corrine Brown Funded by Sham Nonprofit

By Walker Davis

Former Jacksonville, FL City Council candidate Mincy Pollock was recently pulled into the scandal surrounding Rep. Corrine Brown (D-FL) and sham nonprofit One Door for Education. Pollock was visited by federal agents following allegations from his former business partner concerning checks that Pollock wrote from their business last year in a dizzying sequence of suspicious money movement—including two allegedly to One Door. A CREW investigation reveals that Pollock may have used One Door to indirectly fund a state ballot initiative expanding Medicaid, raising new questions about how One Door operated and why the One Door money was used to support the initiative.

On November 24, 2015, Blue Cross Blue Shield subsidiary Florida Blue wrote a $25,000 check to First Coast Multi-Lines Agency, LLC, a Florida Blue retailer where Pollock is a founding partner. Pollock deposited that money into the company’s account, and then, over several days, moved almost all of it out. He withdrew $2,500 in cash, wrote two checks totaling $10,850 to Siottis Jackson, an affiliate of Rep. Brown, for “consulting,” and then, on December 2, 2015, wrote two checks totaling $8,000 to “Open Door.” Pollock’s former partner, Rev. Anthony Beeks, says Sun Trust Bank confirmed to him that the “Open Door” checks were deposited in an account registered to One Door for Education.

The story may not end there. The $8,000 that Pollock allegedly directed to One Door matches the sum that One Door contributed over the next two weeks to a Florida ballot initiative committee working with Rep. Brown to expand Medicaid in the state. On December 9 and December 15, One Door made two $4,000 contributions to the PAC, Florida Health Solutions, totaling $8,000. These contributions account for more than 90 percent of the money Florida Health Solutions reports having raised. At the time, Pollock was the chairman of  Florida Health Solutions, which puts him on both the giving and receiving ends of the One Door cash transfers.

The $10,850 that was paid to Siottis Jackson for consulting may possibly relate to Florida Health Solutions as well. Florida Health Solutions paid Jackson a reimbursement for campaign expenses, and the political committee shares a P.O. Box with Siottis Jackson, LLC.

It’s still not clear exactly what happened. Did Pollock misappropriate money from his company in order to fund his work on the Medicaid ballot effort? Did Florida Blue, a Medicaid provider that could possibly benefit from Medicaid expansion, give Pollock the money for the purpose of funding the initiative without revealing itself as the donor? Florida Blue denies any role in Pollock’s allocation of the funds, releasing a statement saying the company is “not involved in this apparent internal disagreement between the [First Coast Multi-Lines Agency] parties."

For his part, Pollock is refusing to talk about the allegations, telling Action News Jax “no comment.”

One thing that is clear, however, is that One Door’s contributions to Florida Health Solutions had nothing to do with its supposed charitable role as a “scholarship foundation.” Federal documents show that over the years the organization took in $800,000 in donations but only ever gave a single $1,000 scholarship. Instead, the money was transferred out of One Door and into personal accounts. The organization’s director, who recently pleaded guilty to wire fraud, transferred $140,000 to her own account. Two other individuals allegedly had access to the funds, one of whom is believed to be Rep. Brown.

Coincidentally, Mincy Pollock, Siottis Jackson, Rep. Brown, and Florida Health Solutions treasurer Von Alexander were discussing Florida Health Solutions at a Jacksonville restaurant when Rep. Brown and Alexander were served federal subpoenas in January. Details connecting the subpoenas to One Door began to emerge later that month.

Despite the cash infusion from One Door, Florida Health Solutions failed to gather enough signatures to qualify the Medicaid expansion initiative for the November ballot.

Are Montana Politicians Really “Incorruptible”?

In the Federalist Papers, James Madison noted that “if angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary.” Of course, he recognized we were not to be governed by “angels,” but by “men,” and so laws were necessary to “oblige [the government] to control itself.” According to U.S. District Judge Charles Lovell, however, Madison needn’t have concerned himself: we could have just been ruled by “Montana politicians,” who the Judge found were “relatively incorruptible.” Read More ›

Arizona Steps Into the Dark

Arizona should take heed: beware the ides of March. The same day ethics complaints were filed against four members of the Arizona House—March 15, known as the Ides of March for the first full moon of a new year and the famous line in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar—a House panel passed a bill that would open the floodgates for secret money in the state’s elections. After passing several different House panels, the bill passed the full House this past Monday. With a potential ethics investigation looming for state representatives—including the House Speaker—Arizona should be moving toward more transparency, not becoming “ground zero in [the] fight over secret political spending.” Read More ›

We’ve Got Some Questions for the Trump Foundation

In response to our complaint filed last week that the Trump Foundation appeared to have illegally given a contribution to a political group supporting Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi at a time when her office was reportedly looking into claims against Trump University, the Trump campaign offered a winding explanation that asks more questions than it answers. Read More ›

When Checks and Balances Fall Short: Ethics Oversight Needed

In case it wasn’t already clear, having accountability measures in place for elected officials is crucial. Unchecked power is a formula for corruption. Perhaps nowhere has this been more clear recently than in state-level politics in New Mexico and Mississippi, both of which lack appropriate accountability systems and both of which have faced local scrutiny and public outrage after widely reported ethical issues, including public officials using campaign funds for personal expenses. Read More ›

Lawsuit Isn’t First Time 60 Plus Association Has Been Accused of Lying to the IRS

The 60 Plus Association, the seniors-focused conservative nonprofit that has spent millions on influencing elections, is in disarray. Last month, four of the group’s board members, including founder and longtime chairman Jim Martin, filed a lawsuit against another set of board members that includes 60 Plus’s president Amy Noone Frederick. Read More ›

President Should Act to Curb Political Abuses by Federal Contractors

CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder published an editorial on The Hill's Congress Blog last week calling on President Obama to take executive action that curtails political abuses by federal contractors, such as General Dynamics. Read More ›

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