RALEIGH – For the last month, Forest Friendship Friday has highlighted a handful of Dan Forest’s close ties to indicted ministers, corrupt mega-donors, social extremists, and more. There’s certainly no shortage of problematic Forest Friendships out there. Let’s take a look back at those spotlighted by Forest Friendship Friday so far.


FRIENDSHIP #1: JASON GROSS

So far, four Word of Faith ministers have been charged with unemployment fraud for orchestrating a morally bankrupt scheme, justified by the group as“God’s Plan,” to salvage their failing businesses. One of them? A donor to Dan Forest: Jason Gross.

Gross, who contributed to Forest’s campaign in 2017, and his father, Dr. Jerry Gross, were sentenced to three years of probation and ordered to pay restitution of over $160,000 for laying off employees – including themselves – and then continuing to work at their podiatry clinic.

Meanwhile, Word of Faith remains under investigation for widespread abuse and alleged human trafficking. The Associated Press has cited 43 former members who claimed congregants were “punched and choked in an effort to beat out devils.” North Carolinians are right to be alarmed, especially given Forest continues to refuse to condemn the group, whose former members have offered detailed allegations of abuse, manipulation, fraud, obstruction of justice and unpaid labor.
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FRIENDSHIP #2: JOHN BRYAN

By forging a friendship with for-profit charter school operator and wealthy donor John Bryan, Dan Forest has historically turned his back on North Carolina public schools and instead put profits over students. John Bryan donated $50,000 to Forest’s Truth & Prosperity PAC at the same time his charter school network, TeamCFA, was expanding into North Carolina.

Despite throwing fervent support behind the for-profit charter school industry, Forest continues to rail against public school teachers who stand up for increased education funding, even stating that teachers had no reason to march this month and that their demands have “already been taken care of.” He also called this week’s Rally for Respect a “political stunt” and insisted that “no one is forcing [teachers] to take these jobs…they’re volunteering.”
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FRIENDSHIP #3: DAVID LONGO

The furniture edition! Dan Forest longtime friend and top donor David Longo established Forest-affiliated Super PAC Citizens For Accountability with $75,000 of his own money and Truth & Prosperity, the super PAC to which recently indicted Greg Lindberg donated $1 million.

Longo’s company, CBI Services, also donated $50,000 to Truth & Prosperity and then donated furniture to Forest’s new Lieutenant Governor’s office, including desks valued between $4,000 and $7,000 each. The total value of all loaned or donated items to Forest’s office is valued at more than $270,000. Where exactly is the line between supporting Dan Forest’s political efforts and his official government office?
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FRIENDSHIP(S) #4: JOHN AMANCHUKWU & PATRICK WOODEN

On May 7th, Dan Forest joined a speaker lineup at an anti-abortion rally in Raleigh with two extremist pastors, and frequent speakers at the HB2 Keep NC Safe rallies, who have demonstrated troubling patterns of spewing hate speech: John Amanchukwu and Patrick Wooden.
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A HISTORY OF HATE:

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Amanchukwu and Wooden have been outspoken in their anti-gay beliefs. In a 2016 speech in fervent support of HB2, Amanchukwu announced, “I will be a homophobic bigot until the day that I die.” (Senate Committee, 3/23/16)
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In the company of HB2 supporters at the Keep NC Safe Rally in May of 2016, Wooden proclaimed, “Transgenderism deals with people imagining to be who and what they are not.” (WNCN, 5/24/16)
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In a passionate and graphic  YouTube rant, Wooden reasoned that if people knew the truth about homosexuality “[they] would literally gag.” (1/17/12)
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Forest Friendship Friday will continue to shine a bright light on Dan Forest’s problematic friendships across the state and continue to ask: Just how much does a Forest Friendship cost North Carolinians?

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