Meet Ken

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Ken Fortenberry has spent a lifetime fighting for responsible, accountable, honest government and for the rights of REAL PEOPLE.

He believes that people – not the government – should make decisions that affect their personal lives, and that the best government is the least government.

Ken is a nationally recognized award-winning investigative journalist and small businessman whose roots in North Carolina date to back to the 1700s.

A champion of people who often have no one to speak for them, he has won more than 100 state, regional and national awards including the National Sigma Delta Chi Bronze Medallion in Public Service and the American Bar Association’s Silver Gavel Award for a series he directed that led to changes in teacher hiring laws in more than 30 states.

He has been honored numerous times in the NC Press Association’s annual journalism competition for community service, investigative reporting and editorial page commentary. “Fearless,” is how one of the judges described him when he took on a local official for misconduct in office.

judge rulesWEBHe received the Georgia Press Association’s Freedom of Information Award in 1993 for his courageous investigative reporting of a powerful public utility that was being mismanaged.

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Ken gained national recognition in 1987 when his house was rocked by two explosions because of stories he published in the McCormick (S.C.) Messenger. His coverage of corruption in local law enforcement led to a federal prison term for the county sheriff, the bribery conviction of the sheriff’s replacement, the exposure of the chief deputy as an ex-convict, and changes in state law enforcement certification.

He was featured on the CBS News program “60 Minutes, the NBC “Today” show, and his story was reported in dozens of publications including Newsweek and The New York TimesA book he wrote about the experience, KILL THE MESSENGER, was published in 1989 and has been under option for a TV movie.

Ken is the fifth great-grandson of Capt. Benjamin Merrill, who was hanged by the British in Hillsborough County for his opposition to the tyrannical government of King George and Lord Tryon. Another direct ancestor, William Merrill, was hanged in Rutherford County for his loyalty to the fight for American independence. Perhaps Ken’s own feelings about freedom and independence stem from his family’s deep roots in the cause of freedom. He is an honorably discharged Vietnam-era U.S. Army veteran.

A former member of the Board of Visitors of the University of Alabama College of Communications, he is a past chairman of the Southern Newspaper Publishers Association Editorial Committee and a former member of the Board of Publications at the University of Southern Mississippi. He was the first president and founder of the Denver Area Business Association, was named Denver’s Citizen of the Year in 2003, and was instrumental in starting the community’s first Fourth of July celebration in 2001.

He has been active in many community organizations including The Georgia Project, a public education project aimed at helping Spanish-speaking school children in Dalton, Ga; Leadership Florida (past board member); and the All-America City Task Force in Dothan, Alabama.

Ken attended the American Press Institute, the Modern Media Institute, the University of South Carolina-Spartanburg, and the U.S. Department of Defense Information School.

kentrout  An avid outdoorsman and trout fisherman, Ken has been married for 40 years to the former Anna Jonas of Lincolnton, and they have five grown children and seven grandchildren.

He is a former candidate for the U.S. Congress and the N.C. House of Representatives and has been a Republican, a Democrat and an unaffiliated voter. Disenchanted with the course both major political parties have taken our state and nation, he realized that the views of the Libertarian Party more closely represented his own feelings and he became a Libertarian.

And no – he has NEVER – consumed marijuana or any other illegal drug. Not once. That means he didn’t inhale!