Ramirez Group wins two hefty navigator contracts.
Democratic political consultant with ties to Senate majority leader Harry Reid has secured some of the most lucrative contracts in Reid’s home state.
Throughout the last year, Andres Ramirez, a former Reid aide, has won $2.5 million in grants to help sign people up for Affordable Care Act insurance in Nevada.
Ramirez’s wife Jackie, who is listed on the award notice as the fiscal contact, was also a Reid aide for nearly ten years.
Ramirez runs the Ramirez Group, a Nevada-based political consultancy. Know Your Care, a national 501(c)(3) non-profit that promotes the Affordable Care Act, hired the Ramirez Group as its representative for Nevada.
But Ramirez insists the award was competitive.
“Senator Reid had nothing to do with awarding us the contract,” Ramirez tells National Review Online. “We competed fairly with the other navigator programs.”
On July 3, 2013, the Silver State Health Insurance Exchange awarded Know Your Care a grant worth $1,027,665 to “provide Navigator and Assister program activities.” According to officials at Silver State, this grant included $36,084 of exchange fees. The rest of the grant came from federal funds.
But Know Your Care never received grant funding because on July 19, Ramirez changed the primary grantee for the award from Know Your Care to the Ramirez Group. Officials with the health exchange have said this decision has primarily to do with ensuring the labor laws and tax policies that applied were local; Know Your Care is based in Washington, D.C., and the Ramirez Group is based in Nevada.
Also, when Ramirez changed the grantee name, he listed Jackie Ramirez as the new fiscal contact for the grant.
The previous fiscal contact had been Tanya Bjork, an executive director at Know Your Care. According to Ramirez, Bjork left Know Your Care to pursue other opportunities. Her LinkedIn profile says she is now a partner at Capital Navigators Inc., a state-level lobbying firm in Madison, Wis.
In 2005, Bjork pleaded no contest to charges that she altered records and illegally solicited campaign funds while she was chief of staff to former Wisconsin state senator Brian Burke.
Know Your Care did not respond to an e-mail inquiry requesting an interview, and Tanya Bjork also could not be reached for comment.
On April 23, 2014, Silver State gave notice of another grant awarded to the Ramirez Group, this time for $1,563,054. This grant is entirely funded by the federal government, according to officials at Silver State. The grant is set to expire on February 15, 2015. This grant makes the Ramirez Group the largest navigator-contract grantee in the state so far this year.
Ramirez began his political career as a legislative aide to Reid. After working on Reid’s staff for a year and a half, he joined the Washington office of Nevada governor Bob Miller as a deputy director, promoting the state’s legislative agenda in Congress. The U.S. Strategies Corporation, a lobbying group, hired Ramirez as a Legislative Affairs Specialists after Miller’s retirement. In addition to political consulting, the Ramirez Group also specializes in public relations and community outreach.
When asked if there was a possibility that some of the grant money could leak to other areas of the business, Ramirez responded that “all government contracts in Nevada are part of the public record.”
“The state doesn’t give us all the grant money upfront,” adds Ramirez. “We submit reports of our work activity and costs, and request funds to cover those costs which have already been incurred. The state then evaluates those requests, and pending adequate documentation (receipts and such) then they issue a reimbursement of funds. The opportunity for me to use funds from this project on other activities does not exist.”
Note: Jackie Ramirez was Regional Representative for U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid – Legislative Office industry from 1992– 2001 (9 years)Las Vegas, Nevada Area. Responsible for community outreach and constituency services.
Marco Rauda, [Ramirez] Associate & Campaigns Manager
Currently, Marco serves as a Commissioner for the Southern Nevada Regional Housing Authority.
Justin McAffee, Associate & New Media Manager
Always one to continue learning and growing professionally Justin recently graduated from the New Organizing Institute’s New Media Bootcamp in Washington D.C. McAffee studied political science at the University of Nevada Las Vegas and the College of Southern Nevada. When not blogging or typing you can find Justin checking out the new downtown LV scene or trekking through the back country of some of Nevada’s breathtaking wilderness areas. Downloadable Media Kit (Includes Bio Text File, Photo, and PDF)
Ramirez Group member: Jennifer Fleischmann – Deputy Finance Director for Rory Reid for Governor – January 2010– November 2010 (11 months)Las Vegas, Nevada Area. http://www.linkedin.com/pub/jennifer-fleischmann/82/3ab/275
Ramirez Group: Carolina Chacon provides a variety of public relations services, from managing social media to planning …Prior to joining Ramirez Group, Carolina worked for Obama for America, the President’s reelection campaign, starting as an organizing fellow and later becoming the state’s blogger and digital content manager. After the hard-fought but successful campaign, Carolina served in the Presidential Inaugural Committee, where she helped coordinate more than 40 non-profit organizations and 400 volunteers in Nevada for the 2013 National Day of Service. She brings years of writing, new media, advocacy and community outreach experience to Ramirez Group.http://ramirezgroup.com/carolina-chacon/
Ramirez Group: Emily McIlveene provides campaigning and administrative services, drawing on her experiences from more than a decade in the political arena. She currently directs Ramirez Group’s largest client, Nevada Health Link, overseeing 40 Assisters who enroll Nevadans throughout the state into the new health insurance marketplace. She also acts as executive assistant to Andres Ramirez, our company’s president. http://ramirezgroup.com/emily-mcilveene/
Ramirex Group: Christian Gerlach …he also coordinates events, builds partnerships and recruits volunteers on behalf of the firm. Fervently passionate about the environment, Christian devotes any spare minute of free time to defending Nevada’s water supply from fracking efforts. He works with the non-profit group Sierra Club and other conservation groups to champion the issue, and is frequently interviewed by local media to discuss the quality and protection of the state’s waters. http://ramirezgroup.com/christian-gerlach/
Ramirez Group: Emily Sandoval is a community outreach specialist at Ramirez Group. With years of experience as a field volunteer in electoral campaigns, Emily knows how to engage and mobilize people around any cause or product. http://ramirezgroup.com/emily-sandoval/