Showdown Looms in Kentucky

Showdown Looms in Kentucky



The state of Kentucky has seemingly turned into a battleground in the fight regarding for-profit colleges. The state’s attorney general, Jack Conway, is currently investigating seven for-profit colleges from his office in Frankfort. He tried to join a whistleblower lawsuit against Educational Management Corporation, and is also leading a group of attorneys general from 22 states in a combined effort to investigate potential abuses in the industry.

The Kentucky attorney general said that his goal is consumer protection, which is a suitable focus for the top law enforcement of the state. But the attorney general is also a politician, and Conway, a Democrat who failed in his Senate bid last year, has started make his crackdown on for-profit colleges a campaign issue.

Apparently, the industry is taking Conway seriously and a number of administrators from at least eight for-profit colleges have donated to Conway’s opponent in the election scheduled next week. One group of these administrators allegedly made the donation at the behest of their employer.

Among the donors is Frank Longaker, the president of the National College of Kentucky, Inc., which was sued by the office of Conway for allegedly misrepresenting job placement numbers. Longaker has stated that Conway is waging an “assault on for-profit education,” and paid for an advertisement Wednesday in the Lexington Herald-Leader that was intensely critical of Conway.

However, high-profile investigations by attorneys general sometimes fizzle, usually after an election. For instance, many in higher education say that the general inquiry of student lenders, which was led by the former attorney general of New York and now the governor of the state, Andrew Cuomo, earned more publicity than results.