Former Kentucky Resident
The Commonwealth of Kentucky is known for raising thoroughbred horses and holding an annual horse fest in Louisville each spring that is known as the Kentucky Derby. And while fancy horses are an important component of Kentucky's tourism effort, neither horses nor tourism play a critical role in Kentucky's economic well-being. The twin engines that power the economy of the Blue Grass state are tobacco and coal - both insidious polluters that have a profound negative impact on the health of Kentuckians - and people in every state in our nation - and internationally.
Kentucky politicians are almost obligated to put forth strong defenses of tobacco and coal, and if, in the election process, they can paint their opponents as being anti-either one of those industries, well, that's just gravy.
Kentucky's senior senator, Mitch McConnell, the Republican Minority Leader in the U.S. Senate who is up for re-election this year, is a shrewd politician and shameless corporate shill. McConnell has been artfully trying to portray his opponent, Alison Lundergan Grimes, Kentucky's current Secretary of State, as being an enemy of the coal industry.
McConnell, who has been in Senate just shy of thirty years, is a pro at slinging mud, but this time it looks as though some of it is going to fly back in his direction.
Daily Kos is reporting today that Mitch McConnell's wife, former George W. Bush Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao "sits on the board of directors of Bloomberg Philanthropies, which has plunged $50 million into the Sierra Club's 'Beyond Coal' initiative, an advocacy effort with the expressed goal of killing the coal industry." The Bloomberg group says that it has prevented 150 coal plants from being built, and that it has taken direct action against sixteen coal plants that are located in Kentucky.
Elaine Chao is also on the board of directors with Wells Fargo, a banking concern that has announced that it will divest itself of the surface mining of coal in Appalachia because of environmental concerns.
(McConnell's wife actually sits on the boards of several charities and corporations. Her income from that type of service was $340,000 last year.)
What is the McConnell campaign's response to the story about his wife serving with a foundation that is a sworn enemy of coal production? It's not important because the decision to fund the anti-coal effort was made before she accepted a position on the board.
Elaine Chao wasn't working with Bloomberg Philanthropies when it decided to target the coal industry - so therefore it somehow doesn't concern her? In point of fact, Ms. Chao (Mrs. McConnell) chose to allow herself to be appointed to that board after it had declared war on the coal industry. She joined a well-known anti-coal outfit of her own free will - and now she is involved in the governance of the foundation that is out to stymie coal production and use in Kentucky and the United States.
It doesn't sound like Alison Lundergan Grimes is the enemy of the coal industry - Elaine Chao is!
Better hit the deck, Mitch - that's mud's coming back around!