/President of firm state hired to promote census defrauded Medicare, jury finds

President of firm state hired to promote census defrauded Medicare, jury finds

The Office of the Secretary of State and the Department of Finance and Administration awarded contracts to The Focus Group, a Biloxi-based PR firm, to create marketing plans for the 2020 census. The Sun Herald reported that Ted Cain, a South Mississippi businessman, president of The Focus Group and his wife were found guilty of defrauding Medicare by charging Stone County Hospital for work they did not do. Cain is the owner of the hospital. He can continue to do business, but he cannot transfer assets prior to a March 26th court date. The defendants were not charged with criminal offenses because it was a civil trial. The trial was intended to recover Medicare’s money plus damages and fines. The Southern District of Mississippi’s U.S. attorney Mike Hurst stated in a press release that the Cain case was among the most “egregious cases of Medicare Fraud” they had ever litigated. It is not clear if officials from the state knew about Cain’s investigation or his connection to the PR firm. Giles Ward, a former senator and chairman, of the Mississippi Complete Count Committee said he learned of Cain’s involvement after the contract was awarded. Ward told Mississippi Today that he didn’t believe it would have made any difference. His indictment is related to Medicare, which is not at all connected to the …. census information. After the contract was awarded, I reached out the CEO of Focus Group about any arrangement that this individual had with day-to-day operations. Other than ownership, their management is independent from this individual. We are moving forward.” According to the Focus Group’s website, Allison Buchanan is listed as the CEO. Buchanan’s name appears on both the contracts with DFA and secretary of state. According to the SOS website, Cain is registered as the director, president, secretary, treasurer and secretary of The Focus Group, Inc. The group was awarded $22,500 by Delbert Hosemann (then-Secretary to State), in December to create a digital media strategy plan and content strategy for outreach for the census. Leah Smith is the deputy chief of staff at the Lt.-Gov’s office. Hosemann stated that The Focus Group was awarded the contract because it offered the best and lowest quote. “Four marketing agencies submitted quotes in response to the Request for Quotes. Smith stated in a statement that the submissions were scored on the basis of experience and other relevant criteria. “In collaboration with Governor’s Office and Complete Count Committee the Secretary of State’s Office began requesting quotes for marketing agencies in November 2019, to market and communicate Census 2020 to the wider public.” The state Legislature allocated $400,000 to the Department of Finance and Administration in February to allow them to enter into contracts to promote, market, and advertise the 2020 census. The contract was awarded to The Focus Group through a no-bid process. Ward states that this was because they didn’t have the time to go through a formal process. The 100-page plan is available here and here. He said that they awarded the contract because of the complexity and size of the marketing plan.