FRANKFORT, KY -- Lunsford and McConnell both have Vencor ties
The re-election campaign of U.S. Sen Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has settled on a quick response to criticism by Democratic challenger Bruce Lunsford, and that response is "Vencor."
But that cuts both ways. Lunsford and McConnell both hold Vencor ties, reports the Lexington Herald-Leader in its Saturday edition. .
Vencor was the national health-care company Lunsford founded in Louisville. In 1998, Vencor made national headlines for evicting Medicaid patients from nursing homes to make room for more lucrative private-pay patients. Lunsford apologized and the company paid a $270,000 fine. In 1999, Vencor filed for bankruptcy protection and reorganized, reports the Herald-Leader.
Asked about a new Lunsford commercial tying McConnell to Washington's moneyed special interests, McConnell spokesman Justin Brasell Thursday told the newspaper, "Here is how it works in Lunsford's world: You run a nursing home business that takes millions from the federal government, and then you are forced to pay record fines for treatment of senior citizens. Then you bankrupt the business but make sure that you walk away with millions."
However, Lunsford -- then the chairman and chief executive officer -- wasn't alone in Vencor's corporate suite. McConnell's wife Elaine Chao sat on the Vencor board of directors through its troubled period, from 1997 until she accepted the post of U.S. secretary of labor in 2001. Her financial-disclosure report shows Chao getting $29,000 a year for her Vencor management duties, reports the Lexington Herald-Leader.
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