The Chatter: McConnell loans himself $1.8M, Grimes doubles down on false claim in ad and 'Pennsyltucky' woman

10/25/2014 11:38 AM

Kentucky U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell is combating a new wave of Democratic spending in his race against Alison Lundergan Grimes by loaning his campaign $1.8 million, Politico reported Friday.

The Washington, D.C., outlet reported that McConnell’s personal contribution tops investments by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and the Senate Majority PAC totaling $1.5 million less than two weeks before the Nov. 4 election.

A campaign official told Politico McConnell’s loan reinforces the Senate Republican leader’s view that the National Republican Senatorial Committee’s resources should be spent in other midterm elections rather than his own.

“Sen. McConnell has maintained a longstanding personal commitment to his members that he won’t draw any resources from the team,” John Ashbrook, McConnell’s spokesman, told Politico. “So he’s going to match Obama’s money men out of his own pocket.”

McConnell holds an $800,000 cash advantage heading into the election, $5.2 million on hand compared to $4.4 million for Grimes, according to the latest campaign finance reports.

Coal keeps the Pinnochios coming

A Grimes ad blaming McConnell for the closure of one of two coal-fired units at Big Sandy Power Plant in Louisa, Ky., was given four Pinnochios by The Washington Post Thursday.

The newspaper’s fact checker Grimes “should be ashamed of herself” for airing an ad that doubles down on a falsehood of McConnell and his wife collecting $600,000 from anti-coal efforts and “makes another highly questionable assertion” that McConnell did not fight for scrubbers needed to reduce carbon dioxide emissions at the plant.

The ad can be seen here:

Grimes’ campaign based part of the ad on McConnell’s votes against spending plans that included funds for clean-coal technology like scrubbers, but the Post reports those budgets passed despite McConnell’s vote. What’s more, McConnell’s votes were cast after American Electric Power’s decision to shutter the coal-fired unit, according to the newspaper.

The ad also includes a statement that McConnell and his wife, former U.S. Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, pocketed $600,000 from anti-coal interests, a claim already debunked by The Washington Post and given four Pinnochios.

The claim relies on Chao’s position on boards with Bloomberg Philanthropies, which committed $50 million to the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal initiative a year before Chao joined the board, and Wells Fargo, which began curtailing its investments in mountain-top-removal mining operations five years before she became a director, according to the newspaper.

From The Washington Post:

So let’s review. Grimes first makes a nonsense claim that McConnell should have somehow arranged for scrubbers in a privately-owned plant that would have sent utility rates soaring.

Then, in a desperate effort to somehow cite Bloomberg’s name, she accuses McConnell of being bought off by a $9,000 payment to McConnell’s wife (who is independently wealthy). Citing a $600,000 number from “enemies of coal” is especially silly, as it mostly involves money from a bank that continues to finance coal companies.

Most striking, Grimes puts her own credibility on the line by uttering these recidivist claims herself, rather than relying on an unseen narrator.

We realize that the game of politics is sometimes played rough in Kentucky, but this ad is beyond the pale. Indeed, it is likely the worst ad of a nasty campaign year. Grimes should be ashamed of herself.

“Pennsyltucky” woman

A woman who cast herself as a strong Kentucky woman supporting McConnell in one of the senator’s recent ads isn’t actually registered to vote in the state, The New York Times reported Friday.

Dallas Knierman appears once in the advertisement and says Grimes “wants me to believe that strong women and strong values are incompatible,” but the newspaper reports she’s registered to vote in her home state of Pennsylvania.

Knierman, a University of Louisville student, hails from “Pennsyltucky” on her personal blog, according to the Times.

“Obviously as a college student she hasn’t changed her registration from where she grew up but that doesn’t make her any less qualified to speak as a young woman who lives in Kentucky,” McConnell campaign manager Josh Holmes told the newspaper.

Kevin Wheatley

Kevin Wheatley is a reporter for Pure Politics. He joined cn|2 in September 2014 after five years at The State Journal in Frankfort, where he covered Kentucky government and politics. You can reach him at or 502-792-1135 and follow him on Twitter at @KWheatley_cn2.


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