Recovery CEO gives big to support Democrat Beshear and a host of Republicans Skip to content

Recovery CEO gives big to support Democrat Beshear and a host of Republicans

More than a half-million dollars in political contributions over the last decade from Tim Robinson, his companies and associates

5 min read
Wielding the ceremonial scissors, Gov. Andy Beshear helps cut the ribbon on the Yellow Banks Recovery Center in Owensboro. Beshear is flanked by Tim Robinson, founder and CEO of Addiction Recovery Care, third from left in the photo, and Rocky Adkins, senior adviser to Beshear, Aug. 3, 2023. The center was ARC’s first in Western Kentucky. (Photo courtesy of ARC)

FRANKFORT — In his State of the Commonwealth speech in January, Gov. Andy Beshear took a moment to address the scourge of addiction in Kentucky, singling out for praise the state’s largest provider of treatment services.

Addiction Recovery Care, or ARC, the Eastern Kentucky-based company — with about 75% of the state’s treatment beds — has grown rapidly over the past decade to dominate the treatment business, financed mostly through Medicaid.

“With us today,” Beshear said, “is Tim Robinson, founder and CEO of ARC, an essential partner in our fight against addiction. … I’m proud to say we now have more treatment beds per capita than any other state in the country.”

But as he worked to open more addiction recovery beds, Robinson was doing something else that surely didn’t hurt his chances of winning such high praise from the governor during the speech televised statewide on KET.

Robinson was donating big to Beshear.

From mid-2021 through the end of 2023 Robinson, his corporations and employees gave at least $252,500 to political committees supporting Beshear, according to Kentucky Lantern’s analysis of online government databases of political contributions.

The donations to Democrat Beshear were a shift in the giving pattern for Robinson, a lifelong and loyal Republican. He even gave big to  Beshear’s opponent in the 2019 governor’s race, Republican incumbent Gov. Matt Bevin.

The Lantern’s analysis shows that — including money contributed to Beshear committees — Robinson, his corporations and employees have made at least $570,000 in political contributions over the past decade as his for-profit company grew from a single halfway house to about 1,800 residential beds and outpatient care for hundreds more clients. That care is mostly financed through Medicaid, the government health plan that expanded care for substance use disorder in 2014.

Except for the money given to Beshear political committees, virtually all of the rest went to Republicans like Bevin, Attorney General Russell Coleman, U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers and candidates for the Kentucky legislature.

Tim Robinson, right, was presented with the 2022 Congressman Hal Rogers Beacon of Hope Award at the National Rx Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit in Atlanta. Rogers is standing at left. Nancy Hale, former head of Operation UNITE, holds the award. Thousands of officials and experts in addiction and opioid use gather annually to share research and strategies at the summits. (Photo courtesy ARC)

In an interview Robinson explained, “I’ve never been for anybody like I’ve been for Andy Beshear,” saying that of all the public officials he has met, Beshear has a unique ability to bring people together.

“I hope he runs for president,” Robinson said. “I’m a Republican and I don’t care who sees that.”

Total giving: $570,838

The Lantern found 266 contributions totaling $570,838 over the past decade from Robinson, his companies and his employees listed in online databases of the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance, Federal Election Commission, and the Internal Revenue Service.

Of that total, Robinson made 92 contributions totaling $262,405. (Included here are a few donated by his wife Lelia.)

A huge share of the donations — $216,050  — came from Robinson corporations.

And the remaining $92,383 came in scores of mostly small contributions from officials and employees of Robinson’s companies primarily Addiction Recovery Care, the Kentucky Lantern analysis shows.

Robinson said that the total of more than $570,000 “seems high to me.” But he added, “Whatever the record is, the record is.”

Robinson, a recovering alcoholic who grew up poor, said he has no compunctions about his political donations, after years of struggling financially to build ARC from a single halfway house to a statewide network of treatment centers with an annual revenue of about $130 million a year.

Biggest share to Beshear

Kentucky Lantern’s analysis showed that Robinson employees began donating relatively small amounts to Beshear’s campaign committee at the very outset of his reelection campaign in late 2021.

Before the election was over, Robinson and his employees and a small political action committee he funded donated $26,525 to the Beshear campaign, the Kentucky Democratic Party and other political committees backing Beshear.  

That’s a modest amount, but what made Robinson a major donor to Beshear were the larger contributions his corporations made to the Democratic Governors Association. The corporations — primarily London Valu-Rite Pharmacy — donated $197,000 to the Democratic Governors Association (DGA) in 2022 and 2023.

The DGA financed a $19 million independent campaign last year to reelect Beshear. The DGA is a tax-exempt 527 organization that can accept contributions of unlimited amounts from people, corporations or labor unions.

Robinson said he gives through companies he controls, including the pharmacy and health clinic, for the obvious reason that there is no legal limit on how much a donor can give to such groups. (State and federal law limit how much a person can give to a candidate for statewide office per election to $2,100 and limit to $15,000 how much a person can give to a state political party. Corporations are forbidden from contributing to a campaign for state office or to a state political party.)

Robinson giving to Beshear political causes continued last December when Robinson gave $29,000 to the committee that paid for Beshear’s inauguration celebration. Inaugural committees are allowed to take contributions of unlimited amounts and Robinson’s is the largest contribution by any individual to Beshear’s inaugural committee.

 Support for Russell Coleman, Republicans

The biggest Republican beneficiary of Robinson contributions in the last election cycle has been Attorney General Russell Coleman, who now holds an office that is second only to the governor in setting and enforcing policy in Kentucky’s fight to reduce substance abuse and addiction.

Robinson, his corporations and employees gave at least $37,700 to Coleman political committees since late 2022.

Robinson gave $10,416 to a super PAC supporting Coleman called Safer Kentucky in late 2023. He also gave $6,000 to the committee that financed Coleman’s inauguration celebration.

His London Valu-Rite Pharmacy also donated $10,000 in 2023 to the Safer Kentucky PAC. Contributions from Robinson and his employees to Coleman’s campaign bring the total contributions from the Robinson group to Coleman to about $37,700.

Robinson said he has known Coleman for years, respects Coleman’s background as a U.S attorney and FBI agent, and agrees with Coleman’s stance on policy and enforcement.

“I went to law school with Russell. He and I have been friends since then,” Robinson said. “I think he’s probably the most qualified person we’ve ever had as attorney general.”

Kentucky Lantern’s analysis shows Robinson has supported many Republicans through the past decade.

Besides his big support for Bevin in 2019 and Coleman in 2023, he has long been a donor to the political committees of U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers. He regularly donates to the Republican caucuses of the Kentucky House and Senate as well as individual Republicans running for seats in the General Assembly.

He and his employees have been particularly persistent donors who have provided a strong and reliable flow of campaign dollars to three eastern Kentucky legislators: Sen. Phillip Wheeler of Pikeville, Rep. Patrick Flannery of Olive Hill  and Rep. Danny Bentley, of Russell.

And recent contributions show that for the first time Robinson is reaching beyond Kentucky’s borders. Early this year he and ARC employees gave at least $20,000 to a political committee of Patrick Morrisey, West Virginia’s attorney general and Republican nominee for governor in this fall’s election.


Written by Tom Loftus and Deborah Yetter. Cross-posted from the Kentucky Lantern.

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Kentucky Lantern

The Kentucky Lantern is an independent, nonpartisan, free news service. We’re based in Frankfort a short walk from the Capitol, but all of Kentucky is our beat.