McConnell holds 'listening' session Friday in Pikeville; Will be fundraising on day of E. Ky. conference

12/03/2013 10:12 AM

UPDATED: Republican U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell will host what’s being dubbed as a pro-coal “listening session” in Pikeville days before a summit is held on how to reinvigorate the region, however McConnell won’t attend that event. Instead, McConnell is scheduled to appear at a fundraiser for his re-election campaign.

The listening tour is scheduled for Friday — three days before more than 1,000 Kentuckians, Gov. Steve Beshear and Congressman Hal Rogers descend upon the city to figure out how to save the Appalachian region in the face of declining coal jobs and devastating poverty.

McConnell won’t be in attendance at the SOAR conference according to his D.C. spokesperson Robert Steurer. However, McConnell will attend a fundraiser in Maryland on the same night the SOAR summit is held according to the website Political Party Time .

Suggested donations to McConnell’s campaign to attend the event with him in Maryland start at $250 through $1,000 to host the event.

The Floyd County Times reported on McConnell’s visit to the region. McConnell’s staff says he will be holding the one-sided event on his own because the Environmental Protection Agency refused to host a listening session in the Eastern Kentucky region.

“The EPA has refused to hold a hearing in coal country, so I decided to organize a session in Pikeville so that those affected by the War on Coal will finally have a chance to have their voices heard,” Senator McConnell said in a statement.

McConnell will hold the listening session on Friday at the University of Pikeville and his office says community leaders, small business owners and coal families will be in attendance.

“Following the hearing, I plan on taking the messages that I receive from my constituents directly to the EPA so they can hear how President Obama’s War on Coal is impacting our coal miners and their families and the economy of eastern Kentucky,” McConnell said.

McConnell is campaigning for re-election and finds himself stuck in the middle of a right-flank primary challenge from wealthy Louisville businessman Matt Bevin and Democratic Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes coming at him from the left.


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