Report links Mitch McConnell's wife to anti-coal campaign - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Report links Mitch McConnell's wife to anti-coal campaign

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) - Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s wife, former U.S. Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, sits on the board of a charity funding “one of the most aggressive anti-coal campaigns in the country,” according to a story published Friday by Yahoo News.

The report says Chao joined the board of Bloomberg Philanthropies, the charity of former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, in 2012. A year earlier, Bloomberg Philanthropies pledged $50 million to the Sierra Club environmental group in an effort to “target” coal plants and “end our nation’s reliance on dirty coal, plant-by-plant, community-by-community, and state-by-state," according to the Yahoo story.

McConnell and his Democratic challenger, Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, have each portrayed themselves as staunch defenders of Kentucky’s coal industry – an important constituency in the November election.

Bloomberg Philanthropies’ 2013-2014 annual report, in which Chao is listed as a board member, touts the progress of the joint Bloomberg-Sierra Club “Beyond Coal” campaign, saying 161 coal-fired power plants have been “retired.” The campaign’s goal is “to retire one-third of the U.S. coal fleet by 2020,” the report says.

A McConnell campaign spokesman told Yahoo that the charity's decision to fund the anti-coal campaign came before Chao joined the board, and “she played no role in the decision.”

In a statement to WDRB, McConnell campaign spokeswoman Allison Moore said, "the whole premise (of the Yahoo story) is wrongly based on (Chao) having a role when she clearly did not. Sen. McConnell has led the fight against the Obama administration's war on coal and a decision made by a board before Secretary Chao joined does not change that."

Though the Yahoo story does not quote Grimes or her campaign, Moore added: "If Alison Lundergan Grimes thinks that it's appropriate to attack family in this campaign she better think through that very carefully."

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