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Report: State Medicaid hires part-time lobbyist

MONTGOMERY (AP) — The state Medicaid agency, using a roundabout contractual deal, hired a lobbyist who could be paid as much as $57,720 for the equivalent of six months' work while also collecting her $59,000 state pension, The Huntsville Times reported.

The newspaper said the lobbyist, Sherry G. Fulford, had not previously worked with Medicaid and was hired under an arrangement in which she is paid with Medicaid money routed through the state Finance Department, Auburn University Montgomery and a private firm, Square Root Solutions Inc.

Fulford, a former university relations director for AUM, had been lobbying for Auburn University and was "on loan" to Gov. Bob Riley during the 2006 legislative session. She told The Times in a story Sunday that she decided to take her state retirement when Auburn President Ed Richardson terminated her employment in a letter after the session ended.

Medicaid Commissioner Carol Herrmann-Steckel said she picked Fulford for the job.

"When word got out on the street that Sherri was no longer employed by Auburn University, I got in contact with her," said Herrmann-Steckel. "Sherri and I go back a long ways and I know the quality of her work."

Fulford said she wanted only part-time work, not a full-time job with the agency that would prevent her from getting her state retirement. Herrmann-Steckel turned to Andy Hornsby, assistant director of the state Finance Department and former president of the Auburn alumni association. He arranged for Fulford's part-time lobbying work through AUM's Outreach outsourcing program.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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