Monday, June 18, 2018

Legal issues, ethical questions dog St. Augustine Mayoral candidate Bill McClure. (Florida Politics)

In 2016, perennial candidate, peripatetic Political Tourist BILL McCLURE, got 9.8% of the Republican primary vote in a quixotic race for Congress. Wonderfully talented political reporter A.G. Gancarski's 2016 investigation of BILL McCLURE, then running for Congress from his new wife's Jacksonville address while still serving as a St. Johns County Commissioner, now a Political Tourist running for St. Augustine Mayor:

Legal issues, ethical questions dog Congressional candidate Bill McClure

Bill McClure, a Republican running in Florida’s 4th Congressional District, has messaged heavily against Jacksonville’s pension tax referendum this week.
He’s in an interesting position: despite being a St. Johns County commissioner, his declared address for his filing in CD 4 is in the Hidden Hills neighborhood in Arlington, 35 miles and a county line away from the St. Johns County governmental offices on the northern tip of St. Augustine.
McClure splits his time between Jacksonville and St. Johns County these days, given a marriage in December and the newlyweds attempting to figure out where they want to put down roots.
The Jacksonville address is a campaign headquarters, he said, as well as his wife’s house, which will be sold July 15.
Despite living in Crescent Beach, and representing the people of St. Johns County, McClure seems to believe those voters have no problem with him bi-locating while a sitting official, spending many evenings outside of his home county.
Of course, those voters may have no issue with him being subject to an ongoing criminal investigation from the office of the Attorney General either.
An interesting arrangement from an interesting man.
And McClure has taken an interesting tack to introduce himself to voters who have never heard of him before.
He pledged to launch a targeted campaign of Facebook ads, promoting a petition opposing extension of the city’s half-cent sales tax to address the unfunded pension liability.
He frames that civic initiative as a sop to “big business and their fat cat corporate donors,” spurred by their “mismanagement and spending addiction.”
It’s interesting that McClure uses the word “addiction,” given one of his businesses and its role in St. Johns County, where he serves on the county commission, was linked to addiction.
After moving to the Palencia community in St. Johns County last decade, Commissioner McClure was prominently involved in a business called Medi MD.
Some have called it a pill mill.
In 2014, Attorney General Pam Bondi executed search warrants on the Medi MD facilities.
And, says Kylie Mason of her office, the “criminal investigation is still active and ongoing.”
The charges ran the gamut, according to the St. Augustine Record:
“Health care fraud, conspiracy to commit health care fraud, Medicaid provider fraud, grand theft, falsifying a death certificate and practicing medicine without a license.
“Among the materials sought by investigators were: Medicaid and Medicare billing documents, all prescription medications (along with containers and prescription pads), all financial records relating to the office as a Medicaid and Medicare service provider, all information related to the office stored on computers or other digital storage devices and other documents.”
And apparently, there was probable cause for inquiry. Charges were that patients were routinely double-billed, according to a December 2014 St. Augustine Record article. Fraudulent billing codes were used, according to the report. Fraudulent dates for billing were used. And, allegedly, patients were prescribed heavy narcotics … by a nurse practitioner.
That nurse practitioner? McClure’s mother.
The Record report quoted  Special Agent Brett Rowland of the U.S. Department of State: “Medi M.D. Medicare claims data is consistent with information provided by cooperating witnesses, indicating that Medi MD is currently and has been engaged in a scheme to defraud the Medicare Fund.”
In a conversation Thursday, McClure said they deal with “lots of cases” at the Attorney General’s office, and “they don’t send you anything back” to let you know you’re cleared.
McClure described the facility as a “mental health clinic,” where “not one pain management pill was described” and the “highest would be Xanax.”
“I was a minority investor in Medi MD and had no day-to-day responsibilities. The investigation, as I understand it, was a result of a patient, who was not prescribed her medication on a day in which she demanded it, who in turn, called the 1-800-Medicaid Fraud Hotline, who demanded that her doctor give her medications. She made the allegations. The AG office investigated. We complied fully, and do not expect to ever hear from them again,” McClure said.
McClure said his mother, a psychiatric nurse-practitioner, “could provide meds to a certain level,” but that he didn’t know the rules at that point regarding restrictions.
McClure frames the business as “good for the community,” because the county “got out of the mental health business in 2010.”
Some in the community take a different tack.
Google reviewers described “girls at the front desk [who] looked overworked, haggard, and have really bad attitudes.”
“The office is dirty, packed full of people in the waiting room, and smells like mold and urine,” said the same reviewer.
Another reviewer characterized the operation as “incredibly incompetent, but they [took] Medicaid.”
McClure says he “doesn’t pay attention” to “disgruntled patients,” adding that the business got over 1,000 letters of support.
He also took issue with the “pill mill” phrasing.
“A pill mill would be oxycodone, Percocet, hydrocodone,” and his business, a “mental health clinic,” dealt with people with “depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder.”
“People who may go up to a mall and shoot people,” was McClure’s characterization of some elements of the client base.
McClure has a hearing related to non-payment of rent scheduled for August 2. At issue: over $12,000 in rent and fees. McClure, perhaps unwisely given his business model, signed a 47-month lease in February 2013 that was to extend through the end of 2016.
McClure characterizes that as a “landlord-tenant dispute that has been resolved.”
However, the landlord “is claiming [to be owed an approximately] $5,000 security deposit.”
Before his foray into Medi MD, McClure had issues earlier on.
In 1995, he found himself, along with his company, Schneider Securities, sued by two separate clients for “professional malpractice,” while McClure was working as a financial broker.
Cynics describe it as him having ripped off clients.
After $281,363 in restitution and court costs, the company had settled those grievances by 1996.
Though McClure was listed as a co-defendant, he claimed the company settled the amounts.
“This was a case against involving a security firm recommendations of a $30,000 particular private placement investment. Although I was named as a defendant, the case was against the securities firm I worked for in the early 1990s. The firm does not exist anymore,” McClure said.
Regarding working for the firm, McClure said the legal actions were actually related to 1993, a time when he was “full of vigor,” an exuberance which precluded McClure from doing “due diligence.”
Regarding the details of the cases, McClure found them obscure.
“I don’t really remember the investment … maybe an REIT … I can’t remember what it was.”
Regarding the disparity between the $30,000 investments and the settled amounts, which went as high as $179,808.87 plus 10 percent interest, McClure said the disparity was due to “pain and suffering … I can’t remember exactly.”
“I was never privy,” McClure said, establishing a pattern of being a passive actor in legal imbroglios where he was a named respondent.
In the 1990s, McClure dealt with tax issues related to businesses, including liens imposed on him for failure to pay sales tax, failure to pay unemployment compensation tax, failure to pay occupational tax, and failure to pay sales tax.
He had explanations for all of these, related to his first “entrepreneurial adventure.”
In March 1994, McClure had a lien of $12,180.85, related to a Florida Department of Revenue warrant for delinquent sales tax for Alligator Alley, a drive-thru convenience store he operated in Gainesville.
In April 1995, McClure received a second warrant for $1,266.44 … again for unpaid sales tax and associated penalties.
Those weren’t McClure’s only issues related to Alligator Alley.
He also had three liens for failure to pay unemployment tax, totaling $777, from 1994.
He satisfied those in 1998.
McClure claims that none of this paper is his.
“I sold my business in 1991 or 1991, and got the notice in 1994,” McClure said.
Multiple liens from 1994 and 1995 have McClure’s name (“William McClure DBA Alligator Alley”, or some variant thereof) featured.
Even his 1998 notice of satisfaction of lien listed McClure as DBA Alligator Alley … though by then his address was in Fernandia [sic] Beach. There was a P.O. box, with which McClure said he was “not associated.”
Regarding the $1,266 tax lien, McClure said that was a matter of “partial liability” on “one month’s sales tax.”
Still, McClure says he “sold the business to another gentleman,” and that anything after 1992 wasn’t him.
Why liens would be attributed years after his sale of the business, and then satisfied under his name DBA “Alligator Alley,” is a mystery, even to the candidate.
“When a company is sold there is always a period of adjustments,” McClure said.
If McClure were more of a known commodity in the district, as are his opponents, these issues may be forgiven as blips on the radar, or contextualized as part of a larger record of good-faith dealings.
The track record revealed, however, is that of an itinerant who moves from place to place, somehow being named as a defendant or respondent in claims from the state and private parties, without being in a position to take responsibility for those issues.
As McClure struggles to define himself to voters, they may well believe that his checkered past disqualifies him from sober consideration for elected office.
They certainly may take a hard look at his claims of being a uniquely principled political outsider.

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