When it comes time to choose a bank, many Washington political committees pick one close to home or one affiliated with a big national chain.
But American Crossroads, a conservative group headquartered blocks from the White House, made an unusual choice: Forcht Bank, a small regional institution based in Lexington, Ky.
The bank is part of a regional conglomerate, the Forcht Group, owned by Terry Forcht of Corbin, Ky., which also has publishing, broadcast, construction and real estate companies. The Louisville Courier-Journal reported this week that Forcht's family and employees have given $1.1 million in political donations since 2003, nearly all of it to Republicans.
Forcht also owns a chain of nursing homes under investigation by Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway, who is running as the Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate against GOP nominee Rand Paul. American Crossroads has spent more than $1.8 million on ads opposing Conway, including radio ads, according to Federal Election Commission records.
The Forcht Group also provides $50,000 a year for a "center for excellence" at the University of the Cumberlands. The center's featured speaker this year was Karl Rove, who encouraged the founding of American Crossroads, according to reports.
Crossroads spokesman Jonathan Collegio said Forcht Bank was chosen by the group's chairman, Mike Duncan, a Kentucky native with a banking background who served as chairman of the Republican National Committee. Collegio said Duncan steers clear of any Crossroads decisions about Kentucky races because he is on the state Republican committee.
None of the Crossroads filings submitted to the FEC indicate any payments to Forcht Bank for fees, which are generally required to be reported if they exceed $200, according to campaign finance experts. Collegio said American Crossroads, which is registered as a "super PAC," abides by all disclosure requirements.
"We were basically looking for a bank that would provide us with a good level of community service, and Forcht Bank fit that bill," Collegio said. "This is really a bunch of attenuated dots that don't add up to anything."
Conway spokesman John Collins declined to comment because of the state investigation, which centers on allegations of sexual abuse at one of the Forcht Group's nursing home facilities. Forcht Bank officials did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday.
Thursday, October 28, 2010
American Crossroads and Its Bank
Dan Eggen writes in The Washington Post: