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August 14, 2014

Sen. McConnell Defends Wife's Ties to Bloomberg Foundation

Kentucky Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell on Wednesday rejected calls for his wife, former U.S. Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, to resign from the board of Bloomberg Philanthropies because of its support for shutting down coal plants, the Lexington Herald-Leader writes.

Ms. Chao joined the board of ex-New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's foundation in 2012, a year after it pledged $50-million to a Sierra Club campaign to eliminate aging coal-fired power plants. Mr. McConnell has made defending Kentucky's coal industry one of the central issues of his re-election campaign.

In a letter Tuesday to the Kentucky Coal Association, Democratic state legislators urged the industry group to call for Ms. Chao to quit the Bloomberg board. The association backed Ms. Chao, and Mr. McConnell said on a campaign swing through Western Kentucky his wife is "pro-coal" and "is not going to resign" from the foundation.

"They do a lot of good things," he said. "They do some things she does not approve of, and she doesn't approve of their efforts in the coal industry."