Mitch McConnell Now Dodging Questions on His Minimum Wage Problem, Too

Mitch McConnell has a minimum wage problem. Throughout his career he has so consistently opposed raising the minimum wage, one wonder if Mitch even believes there should be a minimum wage.

In the secret recording of McConnell’s address to the billionaires at the Koch Brothers exclusive retreat, Mitch McConnell is heard blasting efforts to raise the minimum wage — even though vast majorities of Kentucky voters are in favor of raising it. McConnell is out of touch on the issue and he obviously does not want to discuss it, which explains why he’s trying to run and hide.

At the Koch retreat, McConnell complained to his billionaire backers about efforts to raise the wage: “We’re not going to be debating all these gosh darn proposals. That’s all we do in the Senate is vote on things like raising the minimum wage.”

Mitch McConnell knows a little bit about such votes — he’s voted against raising the minimum wage 17 times.

At the same secret Koch Brothers retreat where Mitch McConnell vowed to block even more votes to raise the minimum wage, another speaker, Koch vice president Richard Fink, made clear why people like Mitch McConnell oppose raising the minimum wage… because any minimum wage will lead to fascism, of course.

After explaining that when he sees people on the streets, he tells them to “get off your ass and work hard like we did,” the man identified as Fink said that the culture of victimization is the ‘main recruitng ground for totalitarianism, for fascism, for conformism.” Raising the minimum wage, he claimed, would cost 500,000 people their jobs — a claim that has been disputed by some economists:

FINK: We’re taking these 500,000 people that would’ve had a job and putting them unemployed, making dependence part of government programs, and destroying their opportunity for earned success. And so we see this as a very big part of recruitment in Germany in the twenties. When the Germans were crushed by World War I, the allies put a very strong settlement on that. They lost their meaning in life. And if you look at the rise and fall of the Third Reich… what happens is a fascist comes in and offers them an opportunity.

Wage slavery, you know, is freedom. [You can hear Fink's comments in full here.]

Sen. Harry Reid challenged Mitch McConnell to reject Fink’s ludicrous argument and express at least an iota of support for the minimum wage… but as you will see, Mitch McConnell is refusing to answer questions:

So… we’ll continue to see more ads like those below, but perhaps the bigger problem here is that the number of questions Mitch McConnell is now being forced to dodge and squirm his way out of is mounting. Between his campaign’s bribery scandal, these questions on the minimum wage, and his efforts to strip nearly half a million Kentuckians of their health care, Mitch McConnell’s relationship with the truth is only getting more complicated — and more distant.

That Time Mitch McConnell, Adulterer, Tried to Punish the Virgin Mary?

For all their claims that disgraced former campaign manager Jesse Benton wasn’t actually running the McConnell campaign, one has to marvel at the flailing lack of discipline being shown at this moment by Team Mitch under the “new” leadership of Josh Holmes. Starting late last night and continuing through this morning, Holmes and his cadre of “Wow!” retweeters and allies, campaign deputies and spokespeople, have been pushing a line of attack that’s so pathetically ridiculous, Josh Holmes should tender his own resignation for fear of further embarrassing his great friend and mentor, Mitch McConnell.

In short, a dozen years ago Alison Lundergan Grimes — after months of friendly emails and phone calls — sough formal action against a former roommate and an absentee landlord over an apartment deposit which had not been returned. This very fact actually humanizes Ms. Grimes. The McConnell folks have spent months attempting to portray her as a rich daddy’s girl, but here she is trying to get a $1,000 deposit back on an apartment from a former roommate and a landlord who refuses to return her calls, her emails or her money. The only thing that makes this story at all remarkable is that the landlord who was screwing Ms. Grimes over was also a man of the cloth — a fact Josh Holmes and Team Mitch appear to believe exonerates him from having to be a law-abiding landlord.

Here are the facts: Ms. Grimes rented an apartment; Ms. Grimes put down a security deposit on that apartment; Ms. Grimes left the apartment; Her roommate and her absentee landlord refused repeatedly to return to Ms. Grimes what she was correctly owed.

Anyone, anywhere, who has ever rented an apartment can likely relate to what a colossal hassle it can sometimes be to get back a security deposit that is owed you from a landlord who neglects tenants and/or does not return their calls. The fact that he was a religious man is between him and his G-d. The fact that he owed Ms. Grimes a response, if not her money, was between him and Ms. Grimes… and as it turns out, the courts. The landlord ultimately sided with Ms. Grimes and wrote her a check for over $900 and the matter was settled.

Even more astonishing: By pushing this absurd attack the McConnell campaign is dragging the otherwise good name of a priest into the spotlight of a the nation’s most expensive political campaign to score (or, attempt to score) extraordinarily petty political points. It’s cold hearted, but then so is Mitch McConnell.

In 1998, Mitch McConnell set tried to force women receiving scholarships at University of Louisville to promise him that they would not have children out of wedlock. Not only would this deny scholarships to single moms who had had children out of wedlock but who were now pursuing their education against long odds, the McConnell pledge would have also denied scholarships to women who, let’s say, became pregnant but chose not to have an abortion. For Mitch McConnell’s scholarship recipients, the choice was marry the first man you can find and hope that marriage of convenience can last, get an abortion even if you don’t want one, or give up your scholarship and your education and try to raise your child without the benefit of a college degree which means you’ll likely make far less money and are far more likely to raise your child in poverty (at which point Mitch McConnell will freeze the minimum wage, cut off food stamps and block your access to welfare).

All this from a man who divorced his first wife — which, according to the bible, is a sin of adultery (which, you’ll recall, is one of the Big Sins).

Matthew 19:9 — Jesus said, “I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”

So there you have it, Mitch McConnell is an adulterer.

But back to that wedlock thing… many prominent and beautiful people have been born out of wedlock. One such birth is the birth of Jesus Christ. Some say Mary and Joseph were married, others say they were engaged and that, with their marriage never consummated, Jesus was essentially born out of wedlock. Sure, Joseph got a visit from an angel who told him the gravity of the situation but had Mary been an applicant to the University of Louisville, would Mitch McConnell have seen it that way? Would he, too, have been touched by an angel? Or would he simply have punished the Virgin Mary for her premarital baby and refused her a scholarship to higher education?

McConnell plea irks professors // The Kentucky Post – March 18, 1998

The University of Louisville political science department has overwhelmingly rejected Sen. Mitch McConnell’s request that students in his scholarship program promise not to have babies out of wedlock.

The senator’s proposal also offended some of the students he wants to help, some of whom had children out of wedlock and some of whom were born out of wedlock, said Melodie Humphrey, an 18-year-old McConnell Scholar from Louisville. “They felt insulted,” Ms. Humphrey said.

Oh dear.

Mitch McConnell clearly has a problem with family values. He’s divorced and would rather force women to have abortions or into unhappy marriages than see them pursue their dreams  or trust them to make the right decisions for them. It’s not just sad, it’s heartless. And meanwhile, his campaign staff is trying to claim that Alison Lundergan Grimes was wrong to get back from a landlord money that was rightly owed her.

At least Jesse Benton had message discipline.

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Mayor Gray announces goal of making Lexington a Gigabit City

Regular B&P readers will well remember Roy Cornett’s piece from February about the opportunity to transition Lexington to a faster, more efficient internet infrastructure.

Today, Mayor Jim Gray’s office has just sent out the below press release, announcing a “Request for Information” to begin the process of finding the right partner to build an information highway/bridge to the 21st century. Read on (and go back and read Cornett’s piece as well for a bigger picture):

****FULL TEXT****

Gray Driving Lexington to be a Gigabit City

Mayor Jim Gray today announced his plan to make Lexington a Gigabit City, with dramatically improved Internet speeds based on fiber-optic technology for businesses and residents.

As part of this effort, the Mayor committed to issuing within the next six months a Request for Information (RFI) to gather interest in a potential public-private partnership or commercial-only solution.

“Lexington must join the ranks of Chattanooga, Kansas City and Austin to ensure that our people and businesses have access to fast Internet connections – the vital infrastructure of the 21stCentury,” Gray said. “Lexington is well positioned to take advantage of this bandwidth because it is a University City, with extraordinarily high levels of educated talent and entrepreneurship.”

Nearly a year ago, the Mayor put together a fiber team to assess the current state of Internet access in Lexington and explore the various models for becoming a Gigabit City. The group includes citizens plus representatives from the Mayor’s Office, the Urban County Council, the Office of the Chief Information Officer, and the departments of Planning and Public Works.

Gigabit refers to speeds of up to 1,000 megabits per second. Under the current national average speed of 10.5 megabits per second, it takes approximately 24 minutes to download an HD movie. With gigabit connectivity, that movie would download in 33 seconds.

“We’re going to be looking for partners who can create competition and who are willing to serve neighborhoods throughout Lexington,” Gray said. “Increasing our Internet speeds is crucial, but so is tackling the digital divide.”

Demands for faster Internet speeds are rising, as businesses shift more services to the cloud, seek off-site backups and move vast amounts of data between locations. Similarly, residential usage is higher, as individuals connect more devices to the Internet and use high-bandwidth streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime. Schools, medical facilities and other institutions are increasingly in need of faster speeds.

Aldona Valicenti, Lexington,’s Chief Information Officer, said, “Broadband availability will help and serve all of our citizens, businesses, students, entrepreneurs and graduates from our colleges and universities. We have been assessing the situation, it’s time to act.” Today Valicenti gave an update on the fiber team’s work to the City Council’s Planning and Public Works Committee.

Kentucky’s Internet speeds lag the rest of the nation. According to Akamai’s (one of the nation’s largest providers of cloud services) State of the Internet Report earlier this year:

  • Kentucky’s average Internet connection speed of 7.3 megabits per second puts it in second-to-last place in the nation, just above Alaska. The national average is 10.5 megabits per second.
  • Average peak connection speeds in Kentucky are not improving. Among the states, Kentucky ranked last, with its speed improving only 0.8% over the previous year, compared with national improvement of 31%.
  • In terms of “4k readiness” – the ability to stream UltraHD video, which needs a minimum connection speed of at least 15 megabits per second – Kentucky ranks last among the states, with only 6.1% of connections achieving that speed. Nationally, 17% of households are above the threshold of 15 megabits per second.

Lexington’s average Internet speed of 16.2 megabits per second ranks it 38th among Kentucky towns and cities, according to Ookla, the Internet metrics company.

“Think of where Lexington would be without I-64 and I-75,” said Mayor Gray. “That’s what we face if Lexington is not in the fast lane of the information super highway.”

On John Kemper, Phil Moffett’s Temper, Mitch McConnell’s motivations, and Karl Rove’s Banker

Last week, B&P took a deeper look at, among other things, the campaign money that funded Phil Moffett’s victory in the 32nd House district GOP primary. At issue (in part) was whether Moffett, a prominent Tea Party leader, chose to remain neutral in the divisive Republican Senate Primary between Mitch McConnell and Tea Party candidate Matt Bevin because of the money that was funding his campaign.

Moffett was running against the most recent previous head of the Jefferson County GOP, the largest county Republican party in the state, and even though he was out raised and outspent by $8,000, Moffett won. Setting aside the $7,000 he gave himself, a third of Moffett’s campaign haul came from a trio of people who are extraordinarily close to the Mitch McConnell — Terry Forcht & associates, David Jones Sr., Cathy Bailey.

Forcht is the banker for Karl Rove’s American Crossroads, Jones is a longtime McConnell backer and funder, and Bailey was head of McConnell’s 2008 campaign and maintains very close ties to McConnell’s current campaign (meaning: her husband, Irv is heading up McConnell’s campaign committee). Together, those three gave a third of Moffett’s money.

There is, of course, more where that came from – including $2,000 from Sharon and William Flowers (Sharon’s already maxed out to McConnell in the Senate race); another $2,000 from Jim and Dorothy Patterson who’ve both heavily funded Mitch McConnell over the years, along with maxing out to Moffett’s Republican gubernatorial opponent in 2011.

There seems to be a very clear tie between top McConnell contributors and Phil Moffett’s Tea Party candidacy against an establishment GOP official in a contested State House primary during a divisive US Senate primary in which, it is obvious, the McConnell campaign was going out of its way to woo, coerce or coddle Tea Party forces within the state and nationally either into their camp or onto the sidelines. In Moffett’s case, he stayed very, very quiet on the sidelines, even as most of the rest of Kentucky’s Tea Partiers sided vocally with Matt Bevin.

On election night, Moffett’s victory over an establishment Republican was one of the only bright spots for the Tea Party in the primary.

There are many explanations, of course, but so far, Moffett never replied to B&P’s request for comment (sent before we published the previous article)… but he did talk to WFPL’s Phillip Bailey — or, more specifically, yelled at him and then hung up the phone. Here’s WFPL’s report from last week:

Kentucky state House candidate Phil Moffett said leading up to the May primary he was approached by both the McConnell and businessman Matt Bevin’s campaign for an endorsement.

Moffett remained neutral in the contest, but would not disclose who from either side approached him at that time. He also bristled at questions if money played a role in staying out of the Bevin-McConnell contest.

“Good lord,” he said. “Are you kidding me? This is ridiculous. You’re above this. You think for some reason I’ve been offered a bribe? That’s silly.”

The liberal-leaning news site, Barefoot and Progressive, focused one of its reports on Moffett for receiving hefty donations from Terry Forcht, the head of the Lexington-based Forcht Group, during his Republican primary race this year.

Forcht is among the top funders of McConnell’s campaigns and the contribution was seen as a big catch for Moffett, who defeated a more establishment candidate in May. He hung up with a reporter before being asked if the Forcht donation encouraged him to remain neutral in the Senate primary.

“Why would anybody care about my race, it’s a House race,” said Moffett. “This is silly, of course not. Who’s putting you on this kind of bull—? This is just crazy and it’s a waste of your time and mine.”

There’s a lot to ponder in that from Moffett, but perhaps the first question is his: “Why would anybody care about my race?”

And yet… some of Mitch McConnell’s heaviest funders, including three who are tied very closely to his campaign, gave big to Phil Moffett. Why did they care about his race?

To put Moffett’s response in a larger perspective, consider what InsiderLouisville’s Joey “Beans” Sonka learned when he spoke with John Kemper:

John Kemper — another Tea Party activist who was the Republican nominee for state auditor in 2011 — also told Insider that offers of future support were made to several in return for supporting McConnell or butting out of the race entirely, but he heard of nothing as “blatant” as the Sorenson payoff.

“There were people on the GOP side who played ball with McConnell not because they wanted to, but so they could do what they wanted to do in the future,” says Kemper.

Asked if he ever was offered anything by people close to McConnell, Kemper answered, “I’ll take the fifth on that.” He later added that because of the titles of those who talked to him, he believed they would have had the power to follow through on promises. Kemper says he chose not to play ball like unnamed others did because he was unwilling to compromise his beliefs for personal gain.

“If you wanted to go down that route, it’s only a matter of time before they take that away from you eventually,” said Kemper. “The more I’m around politics the more I learn about how people use power for their own gain. It’s disheartening that what should be an arena of ideas is all about their own power.”

To be perfectly clear, this type of behavior is not new in politics. It actually is politics. Kemper is correct that if money were given to Tea Party candidates in the form of campaign contributions, either now or in future races, there would be nothing untoward in that and it does not rise to level of what is alleged to have happened between Kent Sorenson and Mitch McConnell’s now-former campaign staff in Iowa in 2012. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with it. But if what Kemper describes is what Moffett took part in — and the description is not dissimilar — it does illuminate some of what the McConnell campaign was up to… and it may ultimately play into the 32nd District State House race.

There, Moffett is running against a strong Democrat, Ashley Miller, and the race is expected to be close. With control of the Kentucky state house in the balance, it would be amusing if the presence of Karl Rove’s banker helped to swing the election in Miller’s favor, and more amusing if what appears to be the McConnell campaign’s special interest in this race ended up costing the state Republicans control of the House — but in the end, Republicans in the State of Kentucky already know one overriding truth: the only thing that matters to Mitch McConnell is Mitch McConnell, and if he can win while they lose… he won’t be shedding any tears for them.

Kentucky Moms: Elisabeth Jensen’s playful 2nd ad hits Andy Barr on health care, minimum wage, equal pay, more

Just days after the first one, the Jensen for Congress campaign is out with their 2nd ad, a playful, even sweet, hit that pulls no punches as a group of moms come together (after getting their kids out the door, taking care of their households and generally doing all the things moms have to do) to tell 6th District Congressman Andy Barr it’s time to go:

The message is simple: Kentucky Moms get more done before noon than Congress gets done in a week. It’s a simple ad, powerful, positive and active. Unlike the Barr ads (or most political ads) it takes a moment to sink in that it is a political ad and by the time it ends you don’t feel that same icky dread most other ads leave you with — even saccharine tinged ones with gauzy family shots set in plantation-like gardens.

In the case of Andy Barr, Jensen’s ad could just as easily have said “Kentucky moms get more done before noon than Congress gets done in two years” but we’ll get to that…

$70,000 here, $70,000 there: Why’d McConnell hire Kesari to do same thing he did for Paul?

The Jesse Benton/Rand Paul/Ron Paul/Mitch McConnell/Iowa Bribery scandal continues to fascinate as it unfolds and grows. The McConnell campaigns most recent explanation for why they paid $71,000 to a political operative who appears to have funneled $73,000 as a bribe to an Iowa State Senator is that in their case, McConnell hired Dimitri Kesari to do “field work” and “voter history research” — which is strange since the Paul campaign hired Dimitri Kesari to do something very similar (“voter file lists”) for what turns out to be a very different purpose.

The Grimes campaign is asking the $70,000 Question: What did the McConnell campaign get from the guy at the center of the Iowa bribery scandal?

Here’s the email from the Grimes camp:

NEW BOMBSHELL IN MCCONNELL CAMPAIGN
CONNECTION TO BRIBERY SCANDAL

LOUISVILLE – New information raises new questions of why Mitch McConnell paid Jesse Benton’s former deputy Dimitri Kesari – a central figure in the federal criminal investigation – over $70,000 to the same P.O. Box that funneled bribe money in Benton’s past campaign.

Additionally, the McConnell campaign’s explanation of the work Kesari did matches the project description used to cover up potentially illegal activity in Iowa:

McConnell senior advisor Josh Holmes claims Kesari’s firm was “contracted to consult and work on a specific field project involving … voter history research.”

And the Paul campaign stated bribery payment to the shared P.O. Box was for “voter file lists”:

McConnell campaign said payments to Kesari’s P.O. Box were for “voter history research.”

Kentuckians deserve an explanation as to why Mitch McConnell is funneling money for what appears to be the same type of “project” through the same post office box used in the federal bribery scandal.

Despite the questions swirling about his own campaign manager’s potential involvement in the growing federal bribery scandal, Sen. McConnell refuses to give Kentuckians straight answers.