Stumbo says he will call on Rep. Burch to resign when Elaine Chao steps down from board positions

08/22/2014 12:37 PM

House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, says he will call for one of his Democratic members to resign his seat in the Kentucky legislature when U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell’s wife leaves her post on a board which has been linked to anti-coal donations.

“I’ll call for Tom Burch’s resignation when Elaine Chao resigns from the anti-coal boards she’s on,“Stumbo said. “I can’t fathom the fact that she was paid almost half a million dollars a year to serve on boards that are blatantly anti-coal.”

Stumbo went on to bash McConnell’s record of voting against black lung benefits for coal miners — the Affordable Care Act which McConnell would like to see done away with, includes benefits for miners struggling with the disease.

The comments from Stumbo come after back-and-forth between the campaigns over Chao’s position on the board of Bloomberg Philanthropies after news broke that the group has donated $50 million to the Sierra Club’s “Beyond Coal” campaign — and their “effort to retire one-third of the nation’s aging coal fleet by 2020.”

State Democratic lawmakers including Stumbo sent a letter last week to the Kentucky Coal Association calling on Chao to resign her post on the board.

The same day the letter went out, state Rep. Tom Burch, D-Louisville, 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.”

Republican state lawmaker Rep. Tim Couch of Hyden spoke out against Burch’s comments in a committee meeting the following day on newly proposed regulations on the coal industry.

“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.

Couch later said he was just frustrated with the rhetoric over the talks on coal and that he would not be sending a letter calling on Burch to leave his seat.


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