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Prominent Kentucky GOP donor owns nursing homes being sued for harmful understaffing

Terry Forcht has been a top financial backer of Republican Kentucky governor candidate Daniel Cameron.

By Josh Israel - October 05, 2023
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Daniel Cameron
Kentucky Attorney General and Republican candidate for governor Daniel Cameron, speaks to supporters during the first stop of his multi-city campaign tour in Richmond, Ky., on June 2, 2023. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

Terry Forcht, one of Kentucky’s most prominent political donors, has been contributing to and fundraising for Republican state Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s 2023 gubernatorial campaign. Forcht and his chain of nursing homes are currently facing a class action lawsuit over alleged harmful understaffing. Forcht made headlines in 2019 for successfully urging a previous Republican governor to pardon a family friend convicted of homicide.

Cameron is challenging incumbent Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear in this November’s election. The Cook Political Report rates the race competitive and leaning Democratic.

Forcht’s company website describes him as “Kentucky’s foremost entrepreneur,” and his biography tells the story of his work as a lawyer and co-founder of Forcht Bank, and of his investments in a media empire, insurance companies, and a chain of nursing homes. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) wrote the book’s forward.

Forcht has been a major financial supporter of the Republican Party in general and of Cameron in particular. He donated the $2,100 legal maximum to Cameron’s 2023 gubernatorial campaign; thousands to Cameron’s 2019 attorney general bid; $2,500 to the pro-Cameron Bluegrass Freedom Action PAC; and, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal, more than $150,000 to the Republican Governors Association. Forcht has hosted fundraising events for Cameron during both this race and the 2019 election cycle.

In June, Cameron visited Forcht’s corporate offices in Lexington to discuss policy issues with Forcht and other executives, according to a post on the website of the News Journal of Corbin, Kentucky.

Neither Forcht nor Cameron’s campaign immediately responded to American Independent Foundation requests for comment.

ABC News reported in 2010 that Forcht worked with the Karl Rove-linked super PAC American Crossroads to help defeat Democratic Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway in his U.S. Senate race against Republican Rand Paul that year. 

At the time, Conway’s office was prosecuting Forcht’s Hazard Nursing Home for allegedly failing to report the sexual abuse of an 88-year-old resident. The company agreed in 2011 to pay a $20,000 fine and to improve employee training.

In 2014, Forcht and his nursing home business reportedly funded lawmakers who pushed a bill through the Legislature to require that medical malpractice claims go to an outside review panel before going to the courts. The company had been sued at least three times for alleged neglect of patients up to that point.

The Kentucky Supreme Court struck down the law in 2018 as an unconstitutional obstruction of citizens’ access to open courts.

The estate of a former resident of Hazard Nursing Home filed a class action suit against the company and Forcht in July 2023. The plaintiffs’ attorney accused the defendants in a blog post of “profiting from systematically and knowingly understaffing the facility – a direct violation of Kentucky and federal law.”

“We have filed motions to dismiss these two lawsuits, and we believe they should be dismissed because they have no merit whatsoever,” an attorney for the defendants told the Courier-Journal in August.

In December 2019, the Courier-Journal reported that Forcht had been a major donor to Republican Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin. Among Bevin’s final actions in office was the pardon of convicted murderer Patrick Baker.

“I would like to renew my recommendation for him to receive a Gubernatorial Pardon,” Forcht had told Bevin in a June 4, 2019, note. “I continue to follow his story and feel he would be a good candidate. I know his family and still feel he has turned his life around.” Baker’s family had connections to Bevin as well, according to the Courier-Journal, and had held a fundraiser for him.

Baker was later convicted in federal court for the same homicide.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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