Update: August 12,2014
FRANKFORT, Ky. (WYMT)- A group of Kentucky lawmakers are now calling for the wife of Senator Mitch McConnell to step down from Bloomberg Philanthropies after a Yahoo! News article linked the group to support of an anti-coal campaign.
House Speaker Greg Stumbo, Majority Leader Rocky Adkins, and six other elected officials released an open letter to Kentucky Coal Association President Bill Bissett urging him to ask Elaine Chao to step down from her position on the Bloomberg Philanthropies foundation board of directors. In the letter they said, “As Kentuckians with long histories of championing a strong, vibrant coal industry in the Commonwealth, who work with the Kentucky Coal Association, we call on you personally and on the Kentucky Coal Association directors to denounce the Bloomberg board’s disgraceful action and call on the McConnells to return the money they have pocketed from this and any other anti-Kentucky coal organizations.”
Bissett responded to the lawmakers request with the following statement, “Although no letter has been received thus far by the Kentucky Coal Association (KCA) regarding this issue, it appears this group of elected officials has an issue with Sen. McConnell’s wife and should direct their efforts towards her. As to KCA’s statement on Friday, August 8, 2014, we stand by our statement. While we appreciate the pro-coal positions and past actions of many of the elected leaders who signed this letter, it is important to focus on the severe economic damage that President Barack Obama and Senator Harry Reid have caused Eastern Kentucky and our coal industry. While I understand the need for these elected officials to support candidates of their own party, it is also necessary that KCA correct the public record.”
This all stems from a report last Friday released by Yahoo! News which showed Chao was a member on the board with Bloomberg’s organization, which has donated over 50 million dollars to the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign. In their letter the lawmakers claim “the campaign seeks to retire one-third of the nation’s coal-fired power plants by 2020.”
Bill Bissett responded to the article saying “While Michael Bloomberg’s contribution to the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign in July 2011 is well documented, I believe it is important to recognize that Bloomberg’s contribution was made well before Secretary Elaine Chao began her service as a board member of Bloomberg Philanthropies in April 2012. Since Chao joined the board, Bloomberg has made public statements demonstrating that he now understands that his actions against coal are hurting people. In an April 9, 2014 interview, Bloomberg said, “There should be solutions and systems in place to help the people who have lost jobs because of closed coal plants and mines.” Combined with a July 22, 2013 fundraiser by Bloomberg for United States Senator Joe Manchin, an outspoken advocate for coal mining and usage, it appears that Bloomberg’s positions are softening.”
We have attached the lawmakers’ letter and a link to the original Yahoo! News to this article.
Original Story: August 8, 2014
FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - A trade group representing Kentucky's coal industry is defending Republican Senator Mitch McConnell after a published report that his wife is a board member of an organization that has spent $50 million to close coal-fired power plants.
Yahoo! News reported Friday that Elaine Chao sits on the board of Bloomberg Philanthropies. Former New York Mayor and media mogul Michael Bloomberg founded the charity. We asked McConnell about this during a stop in Pike County.
"First of all the article is inaccurate," said McConnell. "Second: If I were my opponent and had a father like Jerry Lundergan, I don't think I would want to be taking shots at Mitch McConnell's wife."
The Kentucky Coal Association says Bloomberg's contribution was made before Chao joined the board in April 2012.
The eastern Kentucky coalfields have lost 7,000 coal-related jobs since January 2012. That's an issue at the center of McConnell's re-election bid against Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes.
The Kentucky Coal Association says McConnell has done everything possible to protect the coal industry.