By Sam Youngman
U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that he will donate his Senate salary to charity as long as the federal government remains shut down.
U.S. Rep. Andy Barr, R-Lexington, is doing the same, donating the money he was paid Tuesday to the Arthritis Foundation of Kentucky, according to his office.
In a statement from McConnell provided to the Lexington Herald-Leader, the senator blamed Democrats for causing the shutdown by refusing to negotiate on President Barack Obama’s health care law.
“Unfortunately, the effects of this completely unnecessary shutdown will have a real impact on my constituents,” McConnell said. “And I will donate my paycheck to charity for as long as Senate Democrats deprive hardworking Americans of their paychecks during this completely unnecessary shutdown.”
The move reflects an intense 48 hours for McConnell, who is not only squaring off against Obama and members of his own party, but also facing what looks to be a brutal reelection campaign.
Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes blasted McConnell over the shutdown on Monday and Tuesday.
McConnell has canceled his political calendar for Tuesday and Wednesday, and he is likely to cancel a breakfast fundraiser scheduled for Thursday morning if the shutdown continues.
In the hours leading up to the midnight Monday shutdown, McConnell and his campaign team also scrambled to meet another deadline — the Sept. 30 Federal Election Commission deadline to report campaign fundraising for the third quarter.
In an email to donors Monday night, McConnell urged supporters to contribute ahead of the deadline, noting that Grimes held a fundraiser last week in “Beverly Hills, California with Hollywood executive Jeffrey Katzenberg that reportedly brought in over $1,000,000 that will be spent on the Kentucky airwaves.
“They’re pulling out all the stops … it seems like every B-list celebrity, Obama enthusiast and musical artist in Hollywood is descending upon Kentucky,” McConnell wrote in an email distributed by the National Republican Senatorial Campaign and obtained by the Herald-Leader.
In another fundraising email, addressed to “top supporters,” McConnell campaign manager Jesse Benton said that Kentucky “has become and will likely remain the central battleground for the 2014 cycle.”
“There is no doubt that we have the issues on our side, but we will need adequate funding to defend Mitch from the onslaught and are reaching out to key supporters for immediate assistance,” Benton wrote.
It is common for candidates to issue such last-minute pleas, and Grimes did the same.