Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that likely Democratic opponent Alison Lundergan Grimes needs to “do some serious soul searching” after she didn’t speak out about Democratic senators conducting an all-night “talk-athon” on climate change.
McConnell seized on the Democrats’ discussion of climate change and a news report suggesting that someone associated with Grimes’ campaign had secretly told an environmentalist that Grimes would be “more forthright” about her stances on environmental issues after the election.
“It is one of the primary responsibilities of a U.S. Senator to speak out when fellow lawmakers are actively working against your constituents’ best interests,” McConnell said in a statement. “It is very disappointing that Alison Lundergan Grimes could not muster a word against her liberal allies in Washington who were pulling an all-nighter to shut down the coal industry and left open the possibility that she would join them.”
In a campaign that has thus far been fought largely by press secretaries from the two camps, McConnell’s statement indicates that he sees an opportunity to damage Grimes on the issue.
Monday night’s theatrics in Washington coincided with a report from WFPL, a public radio station in Louisville, that someone from the Grimes campaign had told Louisville environmentalist Sarah Lynn Cunningham that Grimes would be more open about her environmental beliefs after the election.
A national Tea Party fundraising group aligned with Louisville businessman Matt Bevin plans to launch a radio ad Tuesday that blames Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell for a court ruling requiring Kentucky to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.
U.S. District Judge John Heyburn II, who issued a final version of his ruling last week, was appointed by President George H.W. Bush on the recommendation of McConnell. Heyburn served as general counsel for McConnell when he was Jefferson County judge-executive in the early 1980s.
“Republican voters strongly disagree with Judge Heyburn, and Sen. McConnell should admit that recommending him was a mistake,” the Senate Conservatives Fund said in a statement.
The group’s ad also notes that Heyburn ruled in 1998 to overturn the state’s ban on partial-birth abortion.
“Who recommended this liberal judge?” one actor says in the ad.
“Mitch McConnell,” another actor replies.
“McConnell should admit right now that recommending Judge Heyburn was a mistake,” the first actor says. “He knew this judge wasn’t a conservative and promoted him anyway. Now we’re stuck with gay marriage.”
Both actors go on to say they plan to vote for Bevin in Kentucky’s Republican primary for U.S. Senate.
The group said it will spend $29,000 to run the 60-second ad statewide.
In a statement, McConnell spokeswoman Allison Moore called the group’s claims “absurd and pathetic.”
“This is the kind of ad voters expect to hear from people who are days away from boxing up their personal effects and auctioning off the remaining printer cartridges in the office,” Moore said. “It is so absurd and pathetic that they ought to stop troubling radio listeners with the obligation of switching stations and admit they have no justification to attack Senator McConnell.”
After Heyburn made his initial gay-marriage ruling earlier last month, McConnell issued a statement condemning the decision and saying that Kentuckians should not have gay marriage “forced on us.”
“I will continue to support traditional marriage and fight to make sure that Kentuckians define marriage as we see fit and never have a definition forced on us by interests outside of our state,” McConnell said.
SCF’s radio ad also accuses McConnell of “political cronyism,” suggesting that he recommended Heyburn because Heyburn had donated to McConnell and served as his county campaign chairman.
“McConnell knew Judge Heyburn was not a conservative, but he promoted him anyway,” said Matt Hoskins, executive director of the Senate Conservatives Fund. “Now Judge Heyburn is forcing his liberal views on Kentucky.”
The Kentucky Opportunity Coalition is set to begin running radio ads in Kentucky’s coal-producing counties boasting of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s pushback against what it calls President Barack Obama’s “war on coal.”
The group, a 501(c)4 non-profit organization that is allied with McConnell, has spent $75,000 to air the 60-second spot in 28 counties. It touts McConnell’s “Saving Coal Jobs Act.”
“There is nothing funny about what they’ve done to Central Appalachia and the Eastern Kentucky coal fields,” McConnell says in the ad. “They want us to sit down and shut up, and I’m telling you we’re not going to take it any longer, we’re going to fight back.”
Scott Jennings, senior adviser to the coalition and a former aide to McConnell, said McConnell “is fighting to save Kentucky jobs from Barack Obama’s job-killing regulations, which have already cost us thousands of jobs and put families and communities at risk.”
The group also is urging supporters to sign a petition in support of McConnell’s proposed legislation.
Under the proposal, which stands little chance of passage in the Democratic-led U.S. Senate, the federal government would face a deadline to issue or deny surface-mining permits.
The EPA has held up about three dozen surface-mine permits in Eastern Kentucky since 2010. The state issued the permits, but federal regulators objected, saying conditions the permits imposed on the coal companies would be inadequate to protect water quality.
There are fewer people employed in coal mining in Kentucky than at any point since the state started tracking the number in 1927. Nearly all the losses have been in Eastern Kentucky, where 2,232 coal workers were laid off in 2013.
Many people in Eastern Kentucky believe tougher federal rules to protect air and water quality are to blame for the sharp downturn in coal production and jobs, but analysts say the picture is more complex. Environmental policies have played a role in the decline, but so have competition from low-priced natural gas and coal from other parts of the country, the depletion of coal reserves in Eastern Kentucky, and higher mining costs in the region.
FRANKFORT — State Sen. Gerald Neal said Wednesday that the firing of a Legislative Research Committee staffer for appearing in a campaign video released by Alison Lundergan Grimes was a violation of the staffer’s First Amendment rights.
Charles Booker was fired earlier this week after appearing in a web campaign video with his wife in support of Grimes, the likely Democratic U.S. Senate nominee. LRC employees are prohibited from engaging in partisan political activities.
Neal, D-Louisville, spoke angrily on the Senate floor in defense of Booker, calling his firing “intolerable” and saying that if the state Senate doesn’t intervene then “shame on you.”
“He’s a casualty, collateral damage in the process of politics,” Neal said.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce will begin running a new television ad in Kentucky starting Wednesday that describes Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell as someone who is fighting against “Obamacare” and for Kentucky’s future.
The ad features several pictures of women and families and is narrated by two female voices, both of which warn against President Barack Obama’s health care law and portray McConnell as waging war against the law on behalf of Kentuckians.
“Most of us don’t get caught up in politics,” the women say, trading off lines. “Between kids, bills, work there’s just no time for it. But this Obamacare mess is scary.”
The Chamber of Commerce would not say how much money it is putting behind the ad, calling it “significant.”
This is the second ad the Chamber of Commerce has run in Kentucky on McConnell’s behalf.
The first, which ran last December, focused on coal.
A Herald-Leader/WKYT Bluegrass Poll released earlier this month showed likely Democratic nominee Alison Lundergan Grimes with a slim 4-point advantage over McConnell, but her lead among women voters was 12 points.
By Sam Youngman
Tea Party groups supporting Matt Bevin’s bid against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said they are satisfied with Bevin’s explanation for signing a document that praised the federal bank bailout of 2008.
But lawyers who have worked with and against the Securities and Exchange Commission take issue with the explanation, expressing surprise and dismay that Bevin claimed to not have agreed with the content of a letter to investors that he signed.
Earlier this week, Politico reported that Bevin had signed a letter to investors of Veracity Funds in which he and investment manager Dan Bandi wrote that the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program, widely considered the first bailout of the global economic collapse, had been a “positive” development for the markets.
Bevin, who has repeatedly criticized McConnell for supporting the bailout, responded to the report by saying that he has always opposed the bailout and that he had not written the letter but only signed it. He also said he thought it would be illegal for him to change the content of the letter.
But allies of McConnell, and attorneys versed in SEC law who are not connected to McConnell, told the Herald-Leader that Bevin could have changed the letter to investors without changing the facts and figures in the accompanying prospectus, which would have been illegal.
Additionally, similar letters to investors obtained by the Herald-Leader show that Bevin sometimes signed the letters and sometimes did not, raising questions about why he thought he needed to sign the letter in question.
Bevin’s explanation that he signed a letter to investors even though it contained opinions contrary to his own is “very odd,” said Mike Edney, a partner at Steptoe and Johnson who represents clients in SEC matters.
An aide to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Thursday that McConnell “kept his promise to Kentuckians that he would not risk another government shutdown or default” when he voted Wednesday to help Democrats cut off debate on a bill to suspend the nation’s debt ceiling.
McConnell, who along with U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, led a small group of Republicans in joining Senate Democrats to beat a filibuster on the “clean” debt ceiling bill, has come under intense fire from Republican challenger Matt Bevin and his allies.
McConnell voted against the bill on final passage, but McConnell’s role in leading members of his caucus to help Democrats cut off debate earned the wrath of Bevin and Tea Party groups.
McConnell spokesman Robert Steurer said in a statement that McConnell “has consistently said that raising the debt limit without corresponding cuts in spending is irresponsible, and that’s why he and every Senate Republican were united in the final vote against the debt ceiling hike.”
“Sen. McConnell strongly believes that the President and Democrats in Congress are failing the country by refusing to fix Washington’s underlying spending problem,” Steurer said. “Unfortunately, Senate Democrats are in the majority and they were determined to hike the debt limit.”
Republican leaders were determined to avoid another stand-off like the one last October over the federal budget that shut down the government, hurt Republican standing with the public and took focus off of the widely-maligned rollout of President Barack Obama’s health care law.
Bevin called the vote “financially reckless.”
“I wish I could say I am surprised that Mitch McConnell voted to hand President Obama another blank check,” Bevin said in a statement. “But sadly, I am not because this is more of the same from a career politician who has voted for bigger government, multiple bailouts and now 11 debt ceiling increases.”
Louisville businessman Matt Bevin has come under fire for signing his name to documents that praised federal bailouts, a potentially crippling moment for his 2014 U.S. Senate campaign.
Bevin, who is challenging Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, has made McConnell’s support of 2008 bailouts amid the global economic collapse central to his campaign’s argument that McConnell is not a true conservative.
But Politico reported Tuesday that Bevin and Daniel Bandi, the chief investment officer and vice president of Bevin’s Veracity Funds, wrote in an Oct. 2008 letter to investors that the $700 billion Troubled Assets Relief Fund (TARP) and the government takeover of mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were positive developments.
“Most of the positive developments have been government-led, such as the effective nationalization of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the passage of the $700 billion TARP (don’t call it a bailout) and the Federal Reserve’s intention to invest in commercial paper,” Bevin and Bandi wrote in the letter, which the Herald-Leader obtained after the Politico story was published. “These moves should help to stabilize asset prices and help to ease liquidity constraints in the financial system.”
The two men wrote that “the government actions to date have been reasonably swift and substantial. The Federal Reserve seems to understand the magnitude of the problem and the underlying issues involved.”
Bevin personally signed the letter to investors.
It’s tough to be Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell these days.
One day he’s praised for helping “save” more than 2,000 jobs in the Lexington area. A week later, he’s down by 4 points in a poll looking at his re-election prospects.
The Bluegrass Poll, which came out last week and shows McConnell trailing Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes 46 percent to 42 percent, revealed a number of trends that will shape the 2014 U.S. Senate race.
But McConnell’s negative job-approval and favorability ratings tell the story of the race so far.
The numbers show that McConnell is well-known, but not particularly well-liked. (Sixty percent of registered voters disapprove of his job performance and 50 percent have an unfavorable view of him.)
He now has the hard, if not impossible, task of reintroducing himself to voters who have known him for 30 years. It hurts the senator exponentially if the negative feelings voters have about him override any good news that McConnell can generate.
The Jan. 31 event at Bluegrass Station, a military industrial park, is the perfect example.
U.S. Sen. Rand Paul has stepped up his blistering criticism of Bill Clinton, saying Democrats who take money from the former president should either return it or not “take a position on women’s rights.”
Paul’s comments, set to air Sunday on C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers,” come as likely Democratic Senate nominee Alison Lundergan Grimes announced Friday that Clinton will campaign in Kentucky on her behalf later this month.
Paul, in the C-SPAN interview, said Democrats “can’t have it both ways.”
“The Democrats can’t say ‘Oh we’re the great defenders of women’s rights in the workplace, and we will defend you against some kind of abusive boss that uses their position of authority to take advantage of a young woman’ when the leader of their party, the leading fundraiser in the country, is Bill Clinton, who was a perpetrator of that kind of sexual harassment,” Paul said.
Grimes, who has made the Republican “war on women” central to her campaign so far, said Friday that Clinton will campaign with her in Louisville on Feb. 25. She said Clinton has indicated he wants to make the Kentucky Senate race his top priority this year.