Mitch McConnell, the Republican Senate Minority Leader from Kentucky, faces backlash from critics and political opponents after audio was leaked from a secret meeting he had with the billionaires and Republican-supporting Koch brothers. The audio recording was from last June, when he attended the meeting with the two brothers and other wealthy individuals financially supporting the GOP.
While political critics say that this particular audio was of no shock regarding Mitch McConnell’s political agenda, he faces backlash from many Democrats who hope this recording will further expose the senator for his ties with the right-wing, billionaire brothers. Young Kentucky Democrat Alison Grimes aims to topple the aging senator at the polls during the election this November.
At the secret meeting, Mitch McConnell, Charles Koch, David Koch and other major donors to the GOP discussed the Republican senator’s strategy for the next elections. This included goals to “go after” President Obama and his administration regarding social services and health care, as well as planning to purposely hurt the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
As the Koch brothers remain heavily involved in the oil industry, the EPA has been a special target for them, as well as for other big names in the business. However, McConnell had previously made public announcements relaying his disdain for the EPA in a special interview with Politico, during which he made many of the same comments that were also found on the audio recording.
Aside from the previous comments, McConnell made clear in the recording that he vows to never support possible increases for a standard minimum wage or an extension in unemployment benefits. He stated that Democrats who support these believe in “all the wrong things.”
During his years as a politician, McConnell voted against a minimum wage increase each time legislation was introduced in the Senate. As was stated in an ad by Grimes, his past votes against a modest minimum wage increase favor a few billionaires instead of the people by whom he was elected to represent and serve.
Both in the secret meeting as well as in his open interview, McConnell talks about “riders,” which he intends to latch on to adjustments to the national budget if he becomes majority leader of the Senate. He explained that the riders he plans to use would be a much easier way to attach such disliked pieces of legislation to large, unrelated bills which Democratic senators would find difficult to reject.
In order for McConnell to succeed in his plans, he would need to win back his seat in November, and the Republican party would have to gain the most seats in the Senate. As a former Republican strategist and current professor, David Woodard, stated, McConnell and other Republicans are taking a risky bet, assuming that they will both take the Senate and that McConnell will win in November, becoming the next Senate majority leader. However, he stated that it is likely that this may not be the case.
As McConnell faces backlash after the audio recording was leaked from the meeting he had with the Koch brothers, political strategists believe that he and other Republicans remain at a disadvantage in light of continued leaks of information that the party has tried to keep secret. Others, including his opponent, Grimes, further believe that all of his remarks regarding social services, healthcare and the EPA will encourage voters to vote Democratic in the November elections.
By Scott Gaudinier