NASHVILLE — A lawyer for a prominent Republican donor is disputing former executives' claims that client Andy Miller Jr. hired political allies, friends and family to work do-nothing jobs.
The Tennessean reports that allegations are made in a lawsuit filed by three former executives who claim Miller caused cash flow problems at Life Watch Pharmacy in 2013 by misusing profits.
The lawsuit alleges that those cash flow problems caused Miller to arrange funding through "high-interest loans from individuals and organizations."
State ethics disclosure forms show at least seven current and former state lawmakers had financial ties Miller companies. Perennial GOP candidate Joe Carr last year paid $2,250 to settle a Federal Election Commission probe into interest earned from a $200,000 campaign loan to Life Watch.
Miller confirmed to the newspaper earlier this year that then-Rep. Jeremy Durham, a Franklin Republican later expelled from the Legislature amid sexual harassment allegations, also loaned campaign money to Life Watch.
The case was filed by Steven Kress, George Clements and Oliver "Crom" Carmichael , who were executives with a holding company called M2G-Med Management Group. The lawsuit claims that Miller offered Kress $350,000 in late 2014 for his silence "regarding their business activities, actions and inactions taken regarding M2G."
Miller's attorney Scott Sims called the allegations "baseless."
"At the end of the day, Andy Miller went above and beyond what he was required to do to try to make these companies successful," Sims said.
Miller has countersued the former executives, alleging that Kress and Carmichael tried to shift businesses away from M2G to another company not owned by Miller.
Sims said the companies went out of business, but that it "wasn't for anything that Andy Miller did."
In 2011, Miller bankrolled a trip to Europe for six state lawmakers billed as a "fact-finding mission" about the dangers of radical Islam, and he is the founder of the Tennessee Freedom Coalition that has brought Dutch anti-Islam lawmaker Geert Wilders to speak in the state.
Miller, his brother Tracy and their Healthmark Investment Trust in September agreed to pay $7.8 million to settle federal allegations that another one of their companies, QMedRx Inc., defrauded the military health care program Tricare. Prosecutors said the company had violated the federal Anti-Kickback Statute that bans the exchange of anything of value for government business.
The settlement did not include any admission of wrongdoing.