For-profit College Targets Attorney General Conway in Election

LOUISVILLE Ky. — A for-profit college is asking its employees to support the challenger in the Kentucky attorney general’s race, saying that the incumbent is unfairly targeting such schools for investigation.

Leaders at Sullivan University, which has its main campus in Louisville, asked employees during an Aug. 3 training session to contribute $25 each to Todd P’Pool, according to The Courier-Journal (http://bit.ly/n0SO6F) and the Lexington Herald-Leader (http://bit.ly/nhtD5T). In addition, chancellor A.R. Sullivan was helping host a fundraiser this week for P’Pool.

Grover Potts, Jr., an attorney for Sullivan, said for-profit college officials think Attorney General Jack Conway has unfairly gone after the schools in an investigation involving possible violations of state consumer laws.

Potts confirmed that contributions were sought from employees, but said no one was coerced and no laws were broken.

Kayla Porter, 28, who attended the event, said employees were asked to raise their hands to show that they intended to donate and she felt so pressured she decided to quit her job at Spencerian College, which is a division of Sullivan.

“I didn’t feel comfortable working for a company that used tactics like this,” Porter said.

The fundraising efforts come as trade practices at for-profit colleges in Kentucky are probed. Some of the schools have been criticized for aggressive recruiting tactics, high tuition and high rates of student loan defaults.

Conway spokeswoman Allison Martin said in a statement that the fundraising is a “desperate act by the target of an investigation.”

P’Pool’s campaign manager David Ray declined Wednesday to comment on the candidate’s fundraising strategy for the Nov. 8 election. He said P’Pool hasn’t taken a public stand on whether tighter regulations are warranted to protect students at for-profit colleges, but said the issue is not a top priority.

When P’Pool is campaigning, Kentuckians are “not asking him about culinary schools,” Ray said.

Contributions to general election campaigns are not due to be filed until October. But financial reports during the primary election show P’Pool’s received $13,000 in contributions from Sullivan executives and their spouses. He also received several contributions from leaders of other for-profit colleges.

It is not the first time Sullivan University leaders have been active in politics. Records from the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance show they also have contributed at least $35,000 in the past two years to candidates.