During an appearance with Kentucky Public Radio Tuesday, Republican attorney general candidate Todd P’Pool said he believes Democratic incumbent Jack Conway has a conflict of interest regarding the pending hospital merger. Conway has asked for more information about the proposed merger of University of Louisville Hospital, Jewish Hospital and Catholic Health Initiatives.
The merged medical facilities will have to follow Catholic health directives, which means U of L Hospital will have to change how it handles reproductive health issues and end-of-life care.
The attorney general recently declared the hospital was public, which could complicate the merger.
P’Pool says Conway acted inappropriately when he made that decision because of a lawsuit he litigated before taking office.
“Unfortunately my opponent can’t seem to identify a conflict of interest. He currently holds a $9 million judgment against the University of Louisville Hospital, where he personally stands to gain millions of dollars but yet doesn’t have the discretion to identify the conflict and not involve himself,” he says.
In 2006, Conway represented a Louisville family in a wrongful death lawsuit against University Hospital that resulted in a jury awarding his clients a multi-million dollar judgment.
The attorney general’s office says Conway was in private practice at the time, but has since severed his relationship with the client and is no longer handling any litigation involving the case.
“It’s an example of Mr. P’Pool making a statement when he doesn’t know the facts. When (Attorney General Conway) was elected he sought guidance from the Kentucky Bar Association on how to handle that case moving forward and he severed the relationship and is no longer representing them because that would be unethical,” says Allison Martin, an attorney general spokeswoman. “That is completely appropriate and there is no conflict of interest. Once again, I believe it is Mr. P’Pool engaged in behavior in which he is spouting off information and isn’t aware of the facts or the duties of the office of attorney general.”
P’Pool also addressed a growing worry among Republicans, which is gubernatorial candidate David Williams, who trails Democratic incumbent Steve Beshear by 30 points in the latest poll.
Observers contend it could hurt down-ticket GOP candidates such as P’Pool, but the Hopkins County Attorney says he isn’t worried and believes voters will separate the candidates come November.
“Back in 2007, my friend Governor Ernie Fletcher lost that night by 18 points on the same night that my friend and classmate Trey Gray won by 18 points. People of Kentucky can clearly identity these races and make an objective decision based on each candidate and each race. And I’m really not concerned with any other race,” he says.
P’Pool says he is within striking distance of Conway and that his internal polls show the race within single-digits. A survey conducted by Public Policy Polling shows Conway up by 11 points over P’Pool.