Andy Barr attacks the Lexington Herald-Pravda and doubles down on absurd taxpayer funded campaign mailers

Sixth District Congressman Andy Barr says he supports the 1st Amendment… but does he really?

Two weeks ago, Barr signed on as one of the chief co-sponsors of a new bill “reaffirming the commitment” of Congress to the First Amendment and its vital freedom of speech protections. Andy Barr spends a lot of time and energy, and as it turns out, taxpayer money insisting to voters of Kentucky’s 6th District that he’s working hard for them in Washington DC, but this type of frivolous  legislation proves otherwise.

Fourteen days after it was introduced just 31 other members of Congress have signed on to support Andy Barr’s laughable 1st Amendment “affirmation” bill – and not one of the other representatives from the Great Commonwealth of Kentucky has joined him.


Barr’s bill is not the work of a serious Congressional Representative. It’s the kind of pandering “lawmaking” that’s straight out of the Ted Cruz and Michelle Bachman playbook. It’s a joke. And yet, this is what Andy Barr’s busy doing up in Washington.

The 1st Amendment isn’t really under attack. Or… if it is, the one attacking it is Andy Barr.

In the sort of supreme satire that’s come to define Andy Barr’s time as central Kentucky’s congressman (recall his “Earth Day” message), earlier this week the self-declared Constitutional scholar attacked the Lexington Herald-Leader, alleging that the McClatchy news organization is publishing articles penned by Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi under the bylines of complicit journalists.

Andy wrote:

The Herald-Leader’s distortion of my office spending is just the type of negative, political, business-as-usual attack by Washington Democrats like Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama I am fighting to change. 

What is this vicious collusion Barr has uncovered? What proof does this sitting Congressman have that our media is state-controlled? What terrible lies did the Lexington Herald-Pravda print?

Well, it turns out, Garland H. Barr IV has got Duckheads all in a bunch over a news article published by a journalist in what the Founding Fathers called in that ol’ 1st Amendment the “free press.”

Apparently, Andy Barr has a problem with the free press. Perhaps he should reaffirm his commitment to it.

The Herald Leader’s Matt Young had published an in-depth report on Andy Barr’s use of taxpayer money to campaign style mailers and conduct campaign style telephone town hall meetings. In just 15 months in office, the supposedly fiscally conservative Andy Barr spent over $190,000 in taxpayer money.

Barr wasted more taxpayer money on this activity — known in DC as “franking” — than 411 other members of Congress. As the Herald Leader reported, Barr’s 15 month total was more than 10 times the amount Rep. Brett Guthrie spent on the same taxpayer funded activity, and Guthrie had the second highest tally in the Commonwealth. Barr waste of Kentucky’s tax dollars was colossal.

Andy Barr, of course, didn’t like this report because it revealed a greater truth about the Congressman. Barr responded in a letter to the paper and a note posted online by claiming that this “Herald Leader distortion” was not an act of original reporting but instead “is just the type of negative, political, business-as-usual attack by Washington Democrats like Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama.”

That’s right. Matt Young, the Lexington Herald-Leader and the McClatchy news organization had explicitly colluded with the White House to smear, distort and attack poor ol’ Garland H. Barr IV.

Except that, as Matt Young clearly wrote, this report was the result of an exhaustive and original Herald-Leader analysis of the Congressional public record:

Overall, a Herald-Leader analysis found that Barr’s spending on franked communications, in which members of Congress use their signature as postage or to authorize electronic contacts, ranks him 26th among 437 representatives in the U.S. House for which data was available from January 2013 to March 2014. Barr has used taxpayer money to reach constituents more than 9 million times since taking office, which is nearly 15 times more than any other Kentucky congressman.

Rather than respond to the substance of the Herald Leader’s report, Congressman Andy Barr attacked the messenger — in this case, the 1st Amendment-protected free press — and claimed that the paper had directly published a coordinated attack put together by his political enemies. That’s not just Michelle Bachman territory, that’s some pure Richard Nixon paranoia.

Pro Tip: Don’t piss off journalists. If you attack their trade, they will come after you with more investigations. Like librarians and hornets, you should think twice before angering them. 

And that’s not all! After the Congressman hilariously attacked journalists, journalism, and the free press Andy then doubled down on his taxpayer funded franking!

First he posted a series of photos to Facebook to demonstrate that his taxpayer funded campaign materials were not really campaign materials — in the process, clearly demonstrating that his mailers are in fact taxpayer funded campaign materials!

Push Polling Questionnaire: Do think Andy Barr should be re-elected? Yes or Yes?

Push Polling Questionnaire: Do think Andy Barr should be re-elected? Yes or Yes?

Andy Barr Works for You, And He Doesn't Even Thank You for Paying for His Campaign Material

Andy Barr Works for You, And He Doesn’t Even Thank You for Paying for His Campaign Material

The example mailer Barr posted above includes a series of loaded questions, worded to push voters toward Andy’s own Tea Party point of view. Andy wants to repeal Kynect and kick the 400,000 people who now have insurance thanks to the state’s marketplace back off it… rip that insurance card up and send them back to the ranks of the uninsured. His loaded questions on Obamacare try to lead you to that heartless point of view, delivering zero facts with zero substance and offering zero chance to make an informed decision. On the “debt ceiling” Barr’s question is worded in such a way that you’d think his vote to keep the government shut down last October was a principled stand rather than a reckless move that was far out of touch with even most mainstream Republicans, to say nothing of independent voters.

Two weeks ago, Andy Barr’s opponent in this November’s election, Elisabeth Jensen, challenged Barr to join her in pledging to reject wasteful congressional perks — one of which was the abuse of campaign-style communications at taxpayer expense.

Yesterday, voters across the 6th District received in their mailboxes yet another taxpayer funded campaign style push-mailer from Andy Barr. Barr’s latest piece of campaign material at taxpayer expense featured a series of questions asking voters/”constituents” if they were for or against a set of bills that he’s already introduced, as if your answer might make some difference:

Andy Barr doesn't care about your opinion, that's why he's asking for it *after* the fact.

Andy Barr doesn’t care about your opinion, that’s why he’s asking for it *after* the fact.

The point, of course, of this latest waste of taxpayer money is for Congressman Barr to tell you on behalf of the Barr Re-Election Campaign that Andy Barr is doing stuff in Washington. It’s insulting enough that he’s spent nearly $200,000 on communications just like this, far more than almost every other member of Congress, but it’s even more insulting that he’s asking your opinion and doesn’t care what it is.

If this wasn’t actually a campaign style mailer and it was really a survey of constituent opinion by which to guide his actions, then why is he only asking for your opinion after the fact?

Barr has already introduced these bills. If enough constituents bothered to take the time to rill this out and send it back to Andy with the answer “No” — what would Andy do? It’s not like he’s going to change his mind and remove the legislation he’s already introduced. The ship has sailed — and like your tax dollars spent on this campaign mailer, there’s no getting it back.

And as one final Andy Barr punch to the face of 6th District voters, the campaign style mailer that your tax dollars paid for doesn’t come with return postage. That’s right! If you actually want Andy to hear your answers to the questionnaire you paid for then you have to pay again to send it back to him:

Andy Barr is wasting taxpayer money at an egregious rate, using your money that could be better spent on… really, pretty much anything, to run for re-election. When questioned about this spending, Andy’s response is to proclaim that the local paper is controlled by his political enemies. And then he doubles down and sends out yet another campaign style mailer.

Andy Barr’s not stupid. But apparently, he thinks you are.

In New Ad, Mitch McConnell Goes to China

The McConnell campaign has a new ad that attempts to claim Mitch has a strong record of standing up to Chinese trade practices that have cost Kentucky tens of thousands of jobs. The ad features Cardinal Aluminum and discusses the 400 jobs there that were saved by a 2012 trade bill signed by President Obama.

The good folks at Cardinal Aluminum are correct that for the past 10 years, unfair trade practices by China have done untold damage to the American job market, but what the ad fails to mention — and what Mitch McConnell won’t tell you — is that the unfair trade environment is of Mitch McConnell’s own making.

As B&P has noted before [here, here], McConnell’s record on Chinese trade and the exporting of good American jobs is abysmal. McConnell spent the 1990s arguing forcefully for an open trading relationship with China. The trade rules McConnell fought to create and that McConnell has spent the past dozen years defending have lead to the loss of over 35,000 Kentucky jobs — and 2.7 million jobs nationwide.

McConnell has consistently stood up to defend China’s trading status and in 2011 sought to block a bill that would address the Chinese currency manipulation that helps create this negative job environment. In that instance, some of McConnell’s fellow Republicans in the US Senate abandoned him for his efforts to protect the Chinese economy at the continued cost of American jobs. It is convenient that after two decades of pushing the free trade that put Cardinal Aluminum’s 400 jobs at risk — in the process, losing 35,000 other Kentucky jobs — McConnell decided that he must do something proactive just as his re-election campaign began to heat up. Unfortunately, McConnell’s record doesn’t just exist around one business and it’s 400 jobs… McConnell’s record has lead directly to 35,000 job losses due to the Chinese trade deficit alone.

Here’s the McConnell ad:

And here’s the response from the Grimes campaign:

“Under McConnell, Kentucky has lost tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs. His Washington record includes supporting tax breaks that encourage companies to ship good Kentucky jobs overseas.” 

McConnell’s record on jobs will continue to be a focal point of the Senate race. He infamously told a Kentucky newspaper earlier this year that it’s “not my job” to create jobs. Several years ago, McConnell told another Kentucky paper that the Chinese trade deficit was “not a huge problem.”

Yesterday the Grimes people released an ad of their own, targeting McConnell on jobs:

McConnell’s allies at the Kentucky Coal Association attacked the Grimes ad. They claim that blaming McConnell for 7,000 jobs lost over the past few years is unfair and that it’s all Obama’s fault. But what about the 6,000 coal jobs lost under just four years of President George H. W. Bush? Or the 16,000 coal jobs lost under Ronald Reagan? Were those Obama’s fault, too?

Since Mitch McConnell entered the US Senate, he’s overseen the bleeding out of over 22,000 Kentucky coal jobs… and apparently none of that is his fault. But it is Obama’s. [more here]

More to the point: the Grimes ad features a coal miner who’s lost his job talking about McConnell’s terrible record on job creation. Neither the ad, nor the miner, attack McConnell for not bringing coal jobs to Kentucky — the ad attacks McConnell for saying that it’s not his job to bring any jobs to Kentucky.

So the Coal Association’s overly-defensive response is doubly off-base. Or perhaps after 30 years in office, Mitch McConnell only thinks the people of Eastern Kentucky can do one thing. If so, that would explain why after five terms in DC, McConnell’s done nothing to diversify the economy of Eastern Kentucky.

So what has Mitch McConnell been doing in Washington all this time?

And how has that worked out?


Kentucky, Karl Rove’s Last Stand.

MSNBC’s Chuck Todd addressed the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce yesterday and had some views on the Kentucky Senate race. Todd pointed out correctly, per KET’s Bill Goodman, that one key to a Grimes victory is that she must run away with Fayette and Jefferson Counties.

As noted here at B&P, this reality puts the oft-overlooked 6th District Congressional race between Rep. Garland H. Barr IV and his Democratic challenger Elisabeth Jensen at Ground Zero of the epic statewide Senate race. For Grimes to win, voters will have to come out en masse for her in Fayette County. If she’s successful, it’s likely that Jensen will be as well. But if national Dems can’t stanch the unfettered flow of big GOP money to Andy Barr, it is possible that Andy’s bankroll could spell Grimes’ defeat. Barr currently has $1.3M on hand, the majority of it coming from big national funders and an orgy of Too Big To Fail Wall Street special interests.

The 6th District (and Andy’s Too Big To Fail cash advantage) is just one part of a larger view. Chuck Todd apparently also claimed that the Kentucky Senate race isn’t really in the national playbook for Democrats and that their interest in the Grimes/McConnell race is simply in riling up the liberal donor base outside Kentucky. On this, Todd seems wildly out of touch. The Kentucky Senate race is the most expensive of the year, possibly in history. If the Dems were just using the race to raise money, why would they then be spending that money? Setting aside Todd’s conspiracy theory, consider that one person who was really excited to spread it was J. Scott Jennings, the former Karl Rove deputy and Mitch McConnell aide who now helps run two Karl Rove connected groups that are dumping massive amounts of money into the race on behalf of Mitch McConnell:

Much of the dialogue about the Kentucky Senate race has focused on the race as a referendum on Mitch McConnell. After all, McConnell has a 30 year record of helping himself to power while his home state languishes further and further behind. McConnell is so wildly reviled as a person that he has actually managed to clock lower approval ratings in Kentucky than Barack Obama.

But if this race is a referendum on Mitch McConnell’s leadership, it’s just as much a referendum on McConnell’s monied establishment allies at American Crossroads, the Karl Rove Super PAC.

Rove has a well documented series of advocacy failures. In 2010, he and his Crossroads groups failed dramatically to defeat Harry Reid in Nevada, spending big and wasting it all. Two years later Karl Rove fared so abysmmally — Crossroads spent nearly $200 Million in 2012 and lost 21 of 30 races, including the White House — that Rove’s election night meltdown on FOX News, in which he pathetically insisted that the sky was not blue, was almost the death knell for America’s favorite turd blossom. In the wake of that horrific failure, Republicans (finally; it’s like an abusive relationship over there) began to turn on Karl Rove (like here).

But by the beginning of this year, some of those big money donors who’d handed Karl wads of cash in previous cycles only to see him blow it had returned for more punishment. Rove and his Crossroads groups are already spending big in the Kentucky Senate race and between now and November, they will play a central narrative role in this election — and the central part of that narrative is: If Karl Rove can’t win this one, can he really be trusted again?

In some sense, the Kentucky Senate race may be Karl Rove’s last chance. This is a referendum on Rove’s future.

Rove’s electoral model at this point consists of siphoning millions out of the wallets of super wealthy Republican donors, then wasting it on bloated attack machines with hefty personnel salaries without delivering results while simultaneously usurping the energy of the conservative grassroots. If Rove’s strategy fails yet again, it’s hard to see him getting yet another chance in 2016.

Yesterday, WFPL’s Phillip Bailey took an in depth look at the ongoing rift between McConnell and the Tea Party and conservative base of the Kentucky Republican Party. While McConnell avoided a primary loss in May, he still watched as 125,000 registered Republicans voted against him. For conservatives looking to rid themselves of Mitch McConnell, there’s not likely to be a better chance  than this November — and the McConnell/Rove alliance only makes them despise McConnell further.

In Bailey’s report, he spoke with Republicans county leaders who hold such disdain for McConnell that some were already pledging not to turn out for him. This disdain was strong leading up to the Republican Primary but has only grown worse as McConnell’s role in the subsequent Mississippi Republican Primary has become clear. McConnell’s Bluegrass Committee was one of those (along with Rove’s groups) heavily supporting an establishment Republican over a Tea Party favorite. McConnell (and Rove) ultimately worked with Democrats to defeat the Tea Party candidate, enraging grassroots conservative activists and risking their ire.

It is a significant risk. If even 3% of voters don’t show up for McConnell (or more terrifying to Mitch, cast votes for Grimes just to be done with him), he could lose this race on his Mississippi antics alone.

In an effort to prop up Mitch McConnell, his campaign and its Karl Rove aligned surrogates have been busy trying to distract voters from their strong dislike and disapproval of the Senator. For a man who’s been in office for three decades, the campaign ads in support of Mitch are shockingly short on accomplishments. Mitch can’t run on his record because he doesn’t have much of one and he can’t run on like ability or charm because he doesn’t have that either.

So Karl Rove and his Crossroads groups have swept in to attack and smear on McConnell’s behalf — but that’s a problem in itself. While McConnell’s approval numbers are below Obama’s, Rove’s are even worse… he’s almost universally reviled with strong negative numbers even among lifelong Republican voters.

Now Karl Rove’s here in Kentucky to save Mitch McConnell and in the process try to save himself. Kentucky’s conservative voters are already enraged that McConnell spent big to destroy the conservative voice in Mississippi and they’re likely even more enraged that Karl Rove’s Crossroads group did as well. Crossroads’ role in Mississippi is perhaps more galling since they flat out lied to Republican voters there, pledging not to get involved in the runoff and then funneling in last minute cash to crush the Tea Party.

In a way, Kentucky voters hold in their hands the power to dispense with both Mitch McConnell and Karl Rove.

While Rove’s dark money groups are dumping megabucks on Kentucky, the question may well become: At what cost?

The Kentucky Opportunity Coalition this morning dropped a new ad on the state, spending three quarters of a million dollars to spew a series of Karl Rove style smears in the direction of Alison Grimes — basically they call her a liar 30 times in 30 seconds. The Kentucky Opportunity Coalition is a Karl Rove group. Its public-faced adviser is Soctt Jennings, the Rove deputy and former McConnell aide, and the “Coalition” uses Crossroads’ media group for its messaging.

Another Rove group, Kentuckians For Strong Leadership, is also outwardly faced by Jennings and utilizes almost exclusively the same vendors as Rove’s Crossroads groups. Kentuckians for Strong Leadership isn’t actually funded by Kentuckians — their finance reports routinely demonstrate that their money is pouring in almost exclusively from outside the Commonwealth — but it does maintain some ties to the state.

Among the board members of Non-Kentuckians for Strong Leadership is Steven Law. Steven Law spent over a decade working side-by-side with Mitch McConnell, starting out as an intern, later as a campaign manager then as Chief of Staff. Steven Law, the Kentuckians for Strong Leadership board member, is the head of Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS.

And speaking of interns — 6th District Congressman Andy Barr worked under Steven Law when Barr was an intern for Mitch McConnell.

Before heading up Rove’s Crossroads Super PAC, he was general counsel for the Chamber of Commerce. In the current election cycle, the Chamber of Commerce has already jumped in to both the Senate race and the 6th District Congressional one, heavily supporting Barr and McConnell. To make matters worse for McConnell’s efforts to woo back conservative voters, the deeply McConnell-alligned Chamber of Commerce worked alongside Mitch, Karl Rove and American Crossroads to buy the Mississippi Senate race out from under the conservative movement.

Under the direction of former GOP head and longtime McConnell fundraiser R. Michael Duncan, American Crossroads began funneling its considerable campaign contributions through the Kentucky-based bank of Terry Forcht. Duncan is the founding chairman of American Crossroads.

Since 2010, these two McConnell and Rove allies — Forcht and Duncan — have given at least $130,000 to Kentucky’s Republican Party. (Mitch McConnell’s Bluegrass Committee has given another $50,000). This is part of why it is so difficult for those disgruntled members of the state’s Republican Party to wrest control away from McConnell: McConnell and his Karl Rove allies hold the keys.

Forcht, his associates and Duncan have given at least $30,000 directly to McConnell over this same period; and together with McConnell’s Bluegrass Committee, Forcht, his associates and Duncan have given 6th District Congressman Andy Barr in excess of $110,000 over the last three cycles.

In 2012, the Rove/Duncan/Forcht/Law Super PAC American Crossroads spent heavily in the 6th District — indeed, Andy Barr’s victory was one of the only bright spots for the group (remember, they only won nine races out of thirty that year, at exorbitant cost).

It’s very clear that Karl Rove and Mitch McConnell are working together in this cycle just as they have in the past. Rove and McConnell shared the same #1 Priority in 2010 (achieve Majorityship for McConnell) and again in 2012 (the defeat of the President) and the two men failed hand-in-hand each time, in shocking fashion.

Now Rove is trying to help McConnell buy his way back to DC for a 6th term. For the two men, this election may be unlike any other. It’s a referendum on Mitch McConnell and a referendum on Karl Rove.

If McConnell loses, if his 30 year record of looking out for his own interests instead of his state’s finally comes back to bite him; if his repeated efforts to, as he vowed, “crush the Tea Party” come back to haunt him, then he got very close to his life goal but came up oh-so-tragically short.

If McConnell loses… then Karl Rove loses, too. Kentucky may be Karl Rove’s last stand. Rove is once again raking in hundreds of millions of dollars, using the Kentucky Senate race to rile up the Republican mega-wealthy donor base. He’s already spending heavily in the Senate race and there should be little doubt that he will soon be dumping money into the 6th District as well, just as he did in 2012.

Karl Rove is desperate to win this race. He can’t afford to lose it. A record of losing race after race at massive expense, and at the expense of the wishes of the GOP’s conservative base, will become too much. Rove has ostracized and maligned the true conservatives and he is well on his way to finally losing the faith of the establishment GOP billionaire funders.

While Rove will spend massive amounts of other people’s money to try to save his own blossomed behind, blanketing airwaves with his tired Rove attacks, he also opens the door to a powerful counter-visual.

McConnell, Rove and their cross-germinated dark money groups will air ad after ad trying to link Grimes to Obama, to Harry Reid, even to Tom Hanks. If the Grimes, Jensen and national Democratic groups know what’s good for them, they’ll be hitting McConnell and Barr with ads of their own, with Karl Rove’s face plastered all over them.

Rove was lucky to survive his 2012 debacle, but if Kentucky’s liberals, moderates, independents and its disenfranchised patriots on the Right line up against Rove and McConnell, then Kentucky could end up being Karl Rove’s last stand.

ABSURD! In #KY6, Could Andy Barr’s Too Big To Fail Advantage… Fail? (and what it means for Mitch McConnell)

On the surface, the 2nd Quarter campaign financing reports in the 6th District race for Congress show a blowout. Republican Congressman Garland Hale Barr IV raised $318,000 while his opponent, Democrat Elisabeth Jensen raised just over half as much, $162,000.

But if you scratch that surface, a few telling facts emerge — and the race gets much more interesting.

Barr is a sitting Congressman, he’s established himself and he should have a commanding lead in fundraising. Jensen, on the other hand, is a political newcomer. She’s a recent graduate of Emerge Kentucky, the political incubator that is steadily producing a stream of talented and driven women who can take charge in Kentucky, she’s spent her career in the private sector (unlike Barr who spent his in not breaking the law in the Ernie Fletcher administration), and she’s a mom.

Barr’s $300K fundraising total is only truly impressive if you don’t look at how he got to $300K, and once you do, you see the race in a whole new light.

Elisabeth Jensen got $117,000 in contributions from individual voters — real live human beings.  She got another $45,000 from PACs. In Jensen’s case, the vast majority of those PACs are organized labor… if there’s a candidate in this race who represents workers, it’s Elisabeth Jensen.

Andy Barr is another story altogether. Barr raised $318,000 but more than half of all Barr’s money — $161,691 — came from PACs.

When you look at individual contributions alone, Jensen is clearly keeping up with Barr. The sitting congressman took in $157,000 from individual voters while his challenger, a political newcomer who a year ago many had written off as not serious enough a fundraiser, took in $117,000.

Jensen didn’t equal Barr’s individual contribution total but at 75% of the Congressman’s haul, it’s nothing to sniff at. You can no longer ignore Jensen’s ability to fundraise.

Now that leave’s Barr’s PAC money. That’s the real difference in this race. Jensen pulled some nice contributions from a very small group of interests (mostly unions) and relied on individuals for most of her total — 72% of it, in fact. On the other hand, Barr pulled 51% of his money from special interests — the majority of it coming from Too Big To Fail Banks, Wall Street investment firms and others in the very financial sector Andy Barr is supposed to be overseeing. As the Herald Leader has noted about Barr, “he’s already one of the leading recipients of money from the masters of Wall Street.” And he’s only just now seeking his second term in office. When Wall Street pours this kind of money on you, they’re expecting a return on their investment.

BarrAbsurdAndy Barr collected the majority of his money, $161,691, from PACs and special interests. A closer look at those numbers reveals that much of it came from the very industry Barr is paid to oversee. Andy Barr sits on the House Financial Services Committee and on its Investigations and Oversight Subcommittee. He provides oversight, they provide payment.

Just four of the nearly 100 PACs that gave to Barr are from Kentucky. One of those is the Barr Victory Fund PAC, Barr’s own group. Another is Kentucky Rise PAC, the committee of Cathy Bailey, a potential Republican candidate for Governor — and Kentucky Rise is heavily funded by Karl Rove’s banker, Mr. Terry Forcht.

The list to the left accounts for just a third of Barr’s special interest donors and includes some of the biggest Too Big To Fail Banks, bailout recipients and other entities with deep ties to the financial services sector that led to and created the implosion of the US economy in 2008. These same companies are now working stridently to roll back regulations put in place after the 2008 collapse — and the people who can roll back those economic and consumer safeguards are the members of the House Financial Services Committee.

Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, Citigroup, Deloitte, Ernst & Young… the list goes on. Also among those shoving money into Andy Barr’s campaign pockets are RBS, UBS and Credit Suisse — Credit Suisse in May agreed to pay over $2B to the US Justice Department for helping Americans destabilize and defund the US Government through tax evasion; UBS was fined $1.2B for its parts in the LIBOR rate fixing scandal, and RBS was fined another $600M for what the Justice Department called a “stunning abuse of trust.”

On the night she won the Democratic Primary, Elisabeth Jensen put Andy Barr on notice — she was coming for him.

“We may not have a Wall Street bankroll,” Jensen said, “or a whole slew of special interests throwing checks at us, but we have a lot of passion and we have boots on the ground.”

Andy Barr’s spokesperson responded to the charge, telling the Herald Leader that it’s “Absurd!” to call Andy the Wall Street candidate.

Over the last week, Jensen has stepped up her attacks on Andy Barr’s Wall Street bankroll, challenging Barr to refuse contributions from any Too Big To Fail bank or firm that got bailed out by the American people after the financial collapse. Jensen went even further, pledging to disclose her full Congressional schedule and not hold secret policy meetings with her campaign fundraisers — unlike Andy Barr.

No doubt, the Barr campaign finds that notion “absurd” as well. If Barr signed such a pledge, his fundraising advantage over Jensen would evaporate.

In May, B&P noted that Barr had raised more money from Wall Street investment firms in one month than he had from actual voters in Lexington over the entire 1st Quarter. The story from Q2 is no different.

At first glance, the 6th District race is a blowout. As the State Journal notes today, Jensen is far behind Barr in terms of cash on hand — Barr has $1.3M at his disposal, Jensen has $230,000.

But to write the race off on account of their accounts would be a mistake. Again, it’s worth noting that inside these numbers, you find that in the 6th District, individual voters gave $157,000 to a sitting Congressman while his challenger, political newcomer Elisabeth Jensen,  raised $117,500

The difference between the two campaigns is in their institutional support. Barr is pulling massive amounts of cash from special interests, Wall Street investment firms and Too Big To Fail Banks. Jensen, so far, isn’t getting an offsetting contribution from the left.

So while Jensen is keeping pace with Barr in terms of individual donors, she’s getting blown out by Barr’s Wall Street bankroll — and as absurd as it may seem, there’s still a chance that Barr’s Too Big To Fail lead could indeed fail.

True, Barr has over a million dollars he can drop onto the 6th District. He can buy up the ad time and attack Jensen relentlessly, but the vote will still come down to voters and enthusiasm. And that’s where the 6th could get interesting.

In isolation, it’s an uphill battle for Jensen. In the scope of the battlefield, the 6th isn’t isolated at all — every vote Barr receives, and every ad he plays, will be an advantage for Mitch McConnell. The forces behind the Barr campaign will mimic the messaging of the McConnell campaign. Local, state and national forces are starting to understand that Barr’s Wall Street Million is just another barrage of ads they will need to counteract if they want to beat Mitch McConnell. While it’s possible Grimes can win the Senate while Barr wins the 6th, her chances increase exponentially if Barr is defeated. The Grimes campaign likely knows this, and outside forces should wake up to that fact.

Every ad Jensen runs, every vote she gets, every outside group that jumps into the 6th District race… every bit of it helps not just take back a seat in the US House but more importantly helps defeat Mitch McConnell.

And for Jensen, there’s already some positive action from the national Democratic Party. While the NRCC gave Barr $5,000 according to the most recent filing, the DCCC has begun to take note of this race and sees that despite the special interest and PAC disparity between the two candidates, Jensen has still made this race competitive:

Jensen’s ‘bus’ filling up

Jensen, 49, said that on a recent trip to Washington to meet with the DCCC, they told her she’s “made the race competitive and we’re going to do whatever we need to do for her to win.”
One person on Jensen’s bus already is Tim Gardner of Richmond. The disabled registered nurse has been making phone calls on behalf of Jensen.

“I think she’s honest,’ Gardner said. “She doesn’t come across as a polished politician. She comes across more as someone who means what she says.”

If the national Dems and the power players on the left who are pouring record amounts of money into the Grimes Senate campaign don’t take note of this House race soon, that would be absurd. Sure, Jensen can ride Grimes’ coattails to victory but Grimes could also end up riding Barr’s to defeat.

The 6th District is in play — even if many observers are watching a different game. If you’re pouring support into the Kentucky Senate race but ignoring the 6th District Congressional campaign, you may end up paying the price.






“Dark Money” Karl Rove Group Releases Ridiculous :30 Ad to Obfuscate McConnell’s War on Kentucky’s Way of Life

The Kentucky Opportunity Coalition spent $1.2 Million in the 2nd Quarter trying to destroy Alsion Lundergan Grimes on behalf of Mitch McConnell. Yesterday the Kentucky Opportunity Coalition dropped $719,000 to plaster the state with a new 30 second ad (below).

The Kentucky Opportunity Coalition is a “dark money” non-profit that’s not subject to finance disclosure laws. So there’s no way to know where their money comes from.

The Kentucky Opportunity Coalition employs as its very special advisor J. Scott Jennings. Jennings is a former McConnell aide and a deputy to Karl Rove in the Bush White House. Scott Jennings also works for the Kentuckians for Strong Leadership PAC which was set up by Rove and his American Crossroads PAC. Despite its name, Kentuckians for Strong Leadership isn’t actually funded by people in Kentucky. (More on them and Karl Rove here.)

Since the Kentucky Opportunity Coalition doesn’t release its financials but does maintain strong ties with the Non-Kentuckians for Strong Leadership, one could conclude that this new ad from Kentucky Opportunity Coalition is also paid for by mega-donors outside the state with a desperate interest in maintaining the death grip of the establishment Republican Party in their ongoing War on American voters.

Here’s the ad. It makes a series of hilarious claims, which aren’t supported by the facts:

The ad attempts to cover-up McConnell’s incendiary comments on job creation. It also obfuscates Mitch McConnell’s actual record on job creation around the state and in the coal industry specifically.

Since Mitch McConnell took office in 1984, Kentucky’s coal industry has lost 22,700 jobs. McConnell talks about Obama’s “War on Coal” and says Obama has killed 7,000 jobs. But in just the four years of George H. W. Bush’s presidency, when Mitch McConnell should have been protecting our way of life, the Bush White House slaughtered 6,000 coal jobs. Under eight years of Ronald Reagan, Reagan was able to decapitate almost 16,000 coal jobs. [more here]

The Kentucky Opportunity Coalition claims that Mitch McConnell will save Kentucky’s coal jobs and Kentucky’s way of life. If that’s true, he’ll have to start now because after 30 years in office all Mitch McConnell’s been able to do is lose 22,700 Kentucky coal jobs.

Two months ago, the Beatyville Enterprise asked Mitch McConnell what he would do to bring jobs to Lee County. McConnell’s incendiary response hasn’t stopped making headlines: “That is not my job.”

Appearing in Beattyville, McConnell was asked by The Beattyville Enterprise what he was going to do to bring jobs to Lee County.

“Economic development is a Frankfort issue,” McConnell said. “That is not my job. It is the primary responsibility of the state Commerce Cabinet.”

There is no doubt that the Kentucky Opportunity Coalition which is in no way coordinated with the McConnell campaign is making a coordinated effort to deflect attention from Mitch McConnell’s outrageous comments about job creation.

But McConnell’s record on job creation isn’t just bad on coal, where he’s lost 22,700 jobs since 1984, it’s also terrible on China.

From 1990 to today, America’s trade deficit with China has ballooned from $10 Billion a year to over $300 Billion each year. Mitch McConnell long championed untethered trade with China and finally got his wish in 2001.

In 2006, the Kentucky Post asked Mitch McConnell about the US trade deficit with China. “It’s not a huge problem,” McConnell told the Post. “If you want to hold inflation down and if American consumers want high-quality goods at low prices, then the global economy is for you.”

And McConnell added:

“The flip side of that is we want the Chinese market to be open … we want the global economy to be a two-way winner.”

Here’s how Mitch McConnell’s two-way winner has worked out for Kentucky:

From 2001 to 2011, the state of Kentucky lost 44,100 jobs, many of them in manufacturing, to China. At the same time, the free trade Mitch McConnell pushed for with the promise that it would help our economy has created just 8,400 jobs over the same period. The total number of Kentucky jobs lost to China due to the opening of trade between 2001 and 2011 was 35,700. [link]

While the Kentucky Opportunity Coalition claims that Mitch McConnell will save coal jobs, McConnell’s actual record is one of destroying over 22,000 coal jobs. And while the Kentucky Opportunity Coalition claims in their ad that Mitch McConnell will finally start creating jobs in Kentucky, over the past 10 years McConnell’s policies have lead to a loss of over 35,000 jobs to China.

Here’s Mitch McConnell in 1992 talking about his long term plans to stimulate the economy and create jobs in China:

And here’s Mitch McConnell in 1992 foretelling his ultimate failure: He outsourced Kentucky jobs to defeat Communism yet two decades later, China’s still Communist and, somehow, Mitch McConnell’s still in office:

And finally, Mitch McConnell has created so many jobs in China that this poster can be found hanging in homes across that country:

Chairman Mitch

Chamber of Commerce attacks Grimes over Obamacare, even though she’s saying what the Chamber says

While working on the earlier post about the Chamber of Commerce and their hypocritical (or simple abusive) relationship with 6th District Congressman Andy Barr, I noticed that yesterday, the political director for the US Chamber of Commerce continued a line of attack against Alison Lundergan Grimes over Obamacare — that, the Chamber’s Action arm claims, Grimes has been unforthcoming about her stance on Kynect and the Affordable Care Act.

This is strange because what Alison Lundergan Grimes has said about the ACA and Kynect is actually much more in line with the Chamber of Commerce’s stated policy than what Mitch McConnell has said.

Here’s the tweet from Chamber Political Director, Rob Engstrom:

How many more days, indeed!

Thing is, Alison Lundergan Grimes has already sorta said what she thinks of Obamacare… and it’s basically what the Chamber itself is saying.

This past January, the president of the Chamber of Commerce (and Engstrom’s boss) Tom Donahue said the Chamber no longer supports a repeal of Obamacare, root and branch. Instead, the Chamber is for “fixing” it. In Kentucky’s Senate race, Grimes is the only candidate in favor of fixing the law. McConnell has made a series of bizarre statements that have swung around from full repeal to admitting that ACA’s Kynect marketplace should be kept in place to advocating for a high risk pool to saying that we should have a national marketplace — that’s not leadership, that’s a weathervane.

Here’s what Chamber President Tom Donahue said in January:

“The administration is obviously committed to keeping the law in place, so the Chamber’s not out opposing it,” Donahue said in his remarks this week. Instead, Donahue vowed to continue “working pragmatically to fix those parts of Obamacare that can be fixed while doing everything possible to make regulations and mandates as manageable as possible for business.”


And here’s what Alison Lundergan Grimes said in May:

“If I had been in the Senate, it would have been a different law,” she said. “As Kentucky’s next senator, I will vote to fix it — which is more than Mitch McConnell would do. I’ve said all along that the law isn’t perfect and there are parts that need to be fixed.”

It’s pretty clear that the Grimes stance is more in line with the Chamber’s official stance than is Mitch McConnell. While McConnell is still actively working to rip health care away from over 400,000 Kentuckians who now have it thanks to Obamcare and Kynect, Alison Lundergan Grimes says: “I am not and will not be for taking away insurance that 400,000 Kentuckians just recently got access to.”

As for some of the Chamber’s priorities in terms of fixing Obamacare… one is that they want to further delay or change the employer mandate — an action President Obama has already done. And now Congressional are now trying to sue the President for doing what the Chamber wanted.

It’s a strange land in the Chamber of Commerce.  Hypocrisy is nothing new in the world of politics, but it is still odd to see the Chamber’s action arm so clearly out on a limb, acting in opposition to the will of the Chamber’s President.