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.



Four Strikes & You’re Out? Andy Barr attacks Chamber of Commerce as Chamber props up Andy Barr

Something’s strange at the US Chamber of Commerce.

In May, the Chamber threw $175,000 behind the re-election campaign of Andy Barr, with this commercial airing across Central Kentucky’s 6th District:

The problem is… Andy Barr doesn’t support the Chamber of Commerce. In fact, he’s gone out of his way to flout the Chamber’s political agenda.

The ad claims that Kentucky is “under attack” from Obamacare, the Affordable Health Care Act that created the Kynect marketplace and has so far extended health care coverage to over 400,000 people. The Chamber’s ad claims that Andy Barr wants to “fix” Obamacare. But Andy Barr has said emphatically, time and again, that he does not want to “fix” Obamacare at all — Andy Barr wants nothing less than a full repeal and Andy Barr will not be satisfied until Kynect has been dismantled and those 400,000 people have their insurance coverage ripped right out of their hands.

Moreover — the Chamber of Commerce isn’t actually in favor of a full repeal of Obamacare. The President of the Chamber of Commerce said earlier this year that he and the Chamber want to see it fixed:

“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.”

That puts Barr and the Chamber of Commerce directly at odds… and it’s not the first time. Now, the Chamber may just be working to purposeful mislead and deceive voters in the 6th District with the TV ad above, but it actually fits a pattern of behavior for Andy Barr. On issue after issue, the Chamber is all in for one thing, and Andy Barr’s doing the exact opposite.

Which raises the question, why would the Chamber continue to support Andy Barr? They’re paying to elect a guy who may help them on a few of their multi-national corporation issues, but on their central policy priorities, and their important long term goals, the Chamber is putting their money into a candidate who’s actively undermining their work. They’re essentially wasting their money twice.

THE GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN: Andy Barr was in favor, the Chamber of Commerce was against. 

In May, the Chamber of Commerce threw millions of dollars behind a handful of House and Senate candidates. Their senior political strategist said that the Chamber was going to target and support only Republicans who had worked to avert last year’s government shutdown:

Mr. Reed also said that, in the wake of last year’s government shutdown, the chamber was throwing its financial and political might behind candidates who the group thinks could help lift Congress out of partisan gridlock.

“Candidates that run on shutting down the government are a threshold issue for the Chamber of Commerce,” Mr. Reed said. “We believe in growth stability and governing, and in this first effort we’ll be supporting 10-plus campaigns that believe in that mantra, and that’s the direction we’re going in this summer and into the fall.”

One of the campaigns the Chamber chose to support was Andy Barr. But that’s odd, since Andy Barr supported the government shutdown.

After voting Wednesday night against the final deal that reopened the government and extended the debt ceiling, Barr told the Lexington Herald-Leader that he had reflected on his campaign promises and his daughters who stand to inherit a massive national debt. He was adamant that he had not considered the political ramifications.

You know what? I don’t care, and I am not focused on politics,” Barr said. “This is not about politics. This is about the next generation.”

Either the Chamber of Commerce is lying and working to deceive voters, and their membership, or they’re getting taken to the cleaners by Andy Barr.

IMMIGRATION REFORM: Andy Barr opposes immigration reform, the Chamber of Commerce is in favor of it.

The Chamber of Commerce has worked actively with the AFL/CIO and other powerful pro-”amnesty” interests to push immigration reform through the Senate last year and earlier this year, Chamber president Tom Donahue wrote a letter, signed by 636 corporate entities (from Facebook to Hewlitt Packard to Halliburton), to House Speaker John Boehner, pleading with him to lead his GOP majority down the path to immigration reform:

“Failure to act is not an option,” the letter stated. “We cannot afford to be content and watch a dysfunctional immigration system work against our overall national interest. In short, immigration reform is an essential element of a jobs agenda and economic growth. It will add talent, innovation, investment, products, businesses, jobs, and dynamism to our economy.”

In May, Donahue reiterated his point more starkly:

We’ll be absolutely crazy if we don’t take advantage of having passed an immigration bill out of the Senate. Going back and doing it again might be harder and do something rational in the House and put it together and let’s get the three or four things we really need there. And we’ve got a lot of heat on that and we’re going to put a lot more.
[...] If the Republicans don’t do it, they shouldn’t bother to run a candidate in 2016. I mean, think about that. Think about who the voters are.


And then just yesterday, in the wake of the ongoing humanitarian crisis in along the border, Donahue wrote:

The business community and its partners will continue to make the case for meaningful reform. We’re going to use every tool and resource at our disposal. And we’re going to keep pushing our leaders to do the right thing for our country, if not before the election, then after—perhaps during a lame-duck session.

Yet when it comes to Andy Barr, the Chamber of Commerce is using every tool and resource at its disposal to block immigration reform. Barr’s continued opposition to the type of level headed reform America’s business community and manufacturers are pleading for in order to stimulate the American economy and create a more stable and growing job base is a slap in the face to Chamber president Tom Donahue.

Andy Barr isn’t just making Donahue and the Chamber look stupid, he’s making them look impotent.

THE EX/IM BANK: The Chamber of Commerce Defends It, Andy Barr seeks to End It.

Andy Barr sits on the House Financial Services Committee. The committee is run by Jeb Hensarling of Texas. Hensarling is on the war path against the Export/Import Bank. Hensarling and the Tea Party want to destroy it, while John Boehner and more mainstream Republicans think maybe that’s a step too far. So far, Boehner and the new Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy haven’t acted to stop Hensarling (in large part because they just saw what happened to Eric Cantor and are scared out of their minds), so Hensarling’s been free to press onward — but he doesn’t press on alone. Hensarling, who’s helped funnel at least $42,000 to Andy Barr’s re-election campaign, has enlisted Andy Barr as one of his leading sentry’s in the fight to dismantle the ExIm Bank. Just last week, Barr advanced Hensarling’s cause:


Proponents of the Export-Import Bank tout the agency as a champion of small businesses, but Rep. Andy Barr, R-Ky., yesterday challenged that claim during a hearing and told the story of of a small Kentucky company that was overwhelmed by related regulations.

Regardless of whatever you might think about the Export-Import Bank and the need to decease it, Barr’s strident opposition to the ExIm is yet another example of the Congressman making the Chamber of Commerce look downright foolish for propping him up.

The Chamber of Commerce is directly at odds with Hensarling and Barr. While Andy Barr works to repeal the ExIm, the Chamber of Commerce is fighting to salvage it. They’ve even set up an entire webpage debunking the exact kinds of myths Andy Barr is so busily trotting out… at the same exact time they have set up an entire webpage supporting Andy Barr.

For the Chamber of Commerce all this adds up to one big mess. Either the Chamber is wasting its money to buy a candidate’s office so that the candidate can actively work to undermine all the policies they’re simultaneously paying big money to advance, or the Chamber’s President is being willfully ignored by a set of rogue political actors within his own organization.

Time Magazine is out today with an article exploring how the Chamber of Commerce, with the help of Mitch McConnell, is “saving the GOP establishment at the ballot box” and while the article is certain to enrage conservatives and Tea Partiers in Kentucky, they can take some solace in the fact that, so far, in Kentucky’s 6th District, the Chamber of Commerce is supporting a pro-shutdown Republican who opposes the Chamber’s agenda on issue after issue, from immigration to health care to the Export Import bank. It’d be funny if it weren’t so sad.

Elisabeth Jensen Challenges Andy Barr to Give Up His First Class Flights and Too Big To Fail Campaign Donors

“Hard working moms in Kentucky know that every penny saved counts – but Congressman Andy Barr is wasting our tax dollars to benefit himself.”

That’s what Elisabeth Jensen says in a release out Wednesday afternoon in which she challenges Andy Barr to forgo 5 Wasteful Perks, including the first class air fares he votes to give himself and to reject campaign contributions from the Big Banks and Investment Firms that got bailed out by the American people (and which heavily underwrite Andy Barr’s candidacy).

Here are Jenesn’s five with more info at her website. Andy Barr is sending a stewardess back from First Calss with his answer so it may take some time.

Elisabeth Jensen Pledged To Reject these 5 Wasteful Perks Abused by Congressman Andy Barr:

1.  Elisabeth will refuse to send taxpayer funded campaign-style mailers; Congressman Barr has been criticized for abusing this perk and is far and away the top spender in the Kentucky delegation.

2.  Elisabeth will vote to end taxpayer spending on first-class airfare for members of Congress; Congressman Barr voted to protect taxpayer funded first class travel.

3.  Elisabeth will join the Kentucky families she represents and purchase health insurance through kynect, Kentucky’s healthcare connection; Congressman Barr voted again and again to repeal or defund kynect which means he also voted to protect taxpayer funded healthcare for members of Congress for their entire lifetimes.

4.  Elisabeth will refuse to accept campaign contributions from banks and investment houses that received taxpayer bailouts; Congressman Barr was “one of the leading recipients of money from the masters of Wall Street,” and has accepted tens of thousands from bailed out banks.

5.  Elisabeth will refuse to hold secret meetings with lobbyists on taxpayer time and will publicly disclose her congressional schedule; Congressman Barr is refusing to post his meeting schedule, including meetings with lobbyists for big banks who are contributing to his campaign.