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The Epoch Times
The Epoch Times
12 Aug 2023

NextImg:NY Nursing Home Operators Accused of Neglect Donated to Gov. Hochul

Nursing home operators accused by the New York State's Attorney General's office of neglect also happened to be donors for New York's Governor Kathy Hochul, according to campaign filings.

About two dozen executives at twenty-two health care facilities currently under investigation by Attorney General Letitia James for mistreating residents, also happen to have donated to the governor, reported the Times Union.

Tens of thousands of dollars from executives and operators of New York nursing homes and rehabilitation centers under investigation flowed into the campaign chest of Ms. Hochul's 2022 reelection campaign, according to state campaign finance records.

The attorney general's office has filed four lawsuits over the past year against 26 nursing home operators for fraud and gross neglect of residents.

Thousands of nursing home residents lived in deplorable conditions, suffering from abuse such as dehydration, infections, sepsis, and an increased risk of death.

The AG's complaint alleges that the defendants made large sums of money although they “contributed nothing and failed to prevent the abuse and neglect.”

Most of the health care operators or executives who were associated with the campaign contributions were also named in AG James’ lawsuits against the nursing home and rehab facilities.

All of the campaign contributions to Ms. Hochul were directly tied to corporations, which are limited to a maximum amount of $5,000 in a calendar year.

Corporate contributions to a campaign are required to report the amount given and broken down by percentages of who owns the company, but this is not always followed or reported accurately.

Contributions like these have been criticized by good government groups for years as a weakness in the state’s campaign finance laws.

Campaign finance reform advocates say there has been a lack of clarity on who has been giving money to those in public office.

In some instances, family members of the accused operators appear to be connected to a particular facility’s contribution to Ms. Hochul, reported the Times Union.

Meanwhile, other donations were associated with certain facilities linked to several addresses, some of which were related to a different facility altogether.

For example, alternate spelling of a last name appeared to be used in a donation, while another was connected to a deceased woman who died over a year, despite her estate being named as a defendant in one of the lawsuits.

John Kaehny, Executive Director of Reinvent Albany, a NY government watchdog group, views the contributions as an attempt to “buy influence” in the administration, while pending litigation plays out at other facilities.

“Essentially it’s… an (apparent) attempt of pay-for-play,” Mr. Kaehny said.

The Epoch Times reached out to Hochul's office for comment.

Ironically, A03484, a bill that will require corporations to publicly disclose their owners and not just to the IRS in private tax filings, is currently awaiting the governor’s signature.

The state legislation is being stubbornly opposed by the real estate and other sectors in Albany.

Mr. Kaehny said that the public needs to be informed if corporations and their executives are attempting to thwart regulatory actions, which could halt their operations, by influencing public officials.

“They’re going to try to preempt that by buying political favor with the governor to call off the regulators,” said Mr. Kaehny.

“That’s the reasonable surmise of what’s going on here—and thus, they all happen at the same time.”

Brian Lenzmeier, a spokesman for Governor Hochul's campaign, gave a brief response to a question from the Times Union, on whether her campaign staff was aware of the sources of the questionable contributions.

“Consistent with Governor Hochul’s commitment to maintain high ethical standards, campaign contributions have no influence on government decisions," he said.

It is not the first time that the relationship between top politicians and home care facilities in the state has come under scrutiny.

Ms. Hochul's predecessor, former Governor Andrew Cuomo, was accused by critics during the COVID pandemic of allegedly forcing elderly patients into nursing homes infected with the CCP virus.

"Welcome to another day in New York under one-party Democrat rule: businesses under investigation know they can buy off Kathy Hochul with political donations, just as they did her boss Andrew Cuomo," David Laska, NY GOP director of communications, told The Epoch Times.

"Meanwhile, no one in the former Cuomo administration, including Kathy Hochul, has been meaningfully held to account for the deaths caused by their order forcing nursing homes to take COVID-19 patients."