Republican lawmaker calls on Democratic Rep. Tom Burch to resign after comments on coal

08/15/2014 03:02 PM

UPDATED — The escalating political tensions surrounding the coal industry in Kentucky has sparked another call for a resignation — this time a longtime Democratic House member.

During the Special Subcommittee meeting on Energy in Frankfort Friday, Rep. Tim Couch, R-Hyden, called on Democratic state Rep. Tom Burch of Louisville to resign after comments Burch made in Louisville this week.

On Thursday, Burch spoke at the Louisville Forum where according to the Courier-Journal the 38-year incumbent said a lot of good could come to the state “if we could get coal out of the way.”

Burch’s comments in Louisville came on the same day as state Democratic House leaders sent a letter to the Kentucky Coal Association calling on the wife of U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, former Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, to vacate her post with board of Bloomberg Philanthropies after news of the boards $50 million donation to a group with an anti-coal agenda.

“If we as politicians are going to write letters and ask people to resign, lets write a letter today and I’ll sign the letter for Tom Burch to resign” Couch said Friday morning.

In a phone interview with Pure Politics after the meeting Couch said he intended the comments to send a message, adding that he doesn’t expect Burch to resign — and that he won’t actually send a letter.

“I don’t want to play petty politics with it,” Couch said — which is what he feels Democrats have been doing on the issue.

Rep. Rocky Adkins, D-Morehead— who signed the letter sent to the coal association president— told Pure Politics after the meeting that Burch should not resign his post, even though he does not agree with what Burch said.

Coal Association President Bill Bissett, who received the letter sent Thursday from Democratic lawmakers, was in the audience at the committee meeting on Friday and he told Pure Politics what Burch said in Louisville was concerning.

“It’s very concerning words to hear from anyone. I understand Representative Couch’s opinion. I’m sure the people who vote for this representative will keep that in mind when they cast their votes next time,” Bissett said.

House Minority Floor Leader Jeff Hoover, R-Jamestown, responded to the call for Burch’s ouster in a statement sent to Pure Politics.

“The real story is the silence of Speaker Stumbo, Leaders Adkins and Overly on Rep. Tom Burch’s statement ‘if we could get coal out of the way, I think we’d have a lot of good things going here.

They flew to Washington a couple of weeks ago, saying they were meeting with the White House to express their opposition to Obama’s policies on coal, but yet all of them refused to attend and participate in the Louisville Forum, and the committee chairman they sent as their spokesperson made slanderous remarks about coal. He was their spokesperson, and they have yet to repudiate his statements, so it appears by their silence they condone what he said.

I appreciate Rep. Couch recognizing our hard working coal miners, their families, and those who have lost their jobs because of the continued assault on coal by Obama.”

Burch was not available for immediate comment.

About Nick Storm

Nick Storm is the Anchor and Managing Editor of Pure Politics, the only nightly program dedicated to Kentucky politics. Nick covers all of the political heavyweights and his investigative work brings to light issues that might otherwise go unnoticed, like the connection between the high profile Steubenville, Ohio rape and a Kentucky hacker whose push for further investigation could put him in federal prison. Nick is also working on a feature length bio documentary Outlaw Poet: A documentary on Ron Whitehead. Follow Nick on Twitter @NickStorm_cn2. Nick can be reached at 502-792-1107 or nicholas.storm@charter.com.

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