REALITY CHECK: Dramatic Grimes ad 'not the whole story' - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

REALITY CHECK: Dramatic Grimes ad 'not the whole story'

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LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – Turning away from her “Question For Mitch” series, Alison Lundergan Grimes turns up the intensity by questioning U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell's record in her latest television advertisement.

The ad, titled “What Can Happen,” blasts McConnell's votes over 30 years in the Senate. It also takes a shot at McConnell's personal wealth, sparking a response from the senator's campaign.

The ad includes claims that don't tell the whole story, according to a WAVE 3 News Reality Check.

“What can happen in 30 years?” asks a narrator as dramatic music plays. “A senator can become a multi-millionaire in public office.”

In 2012, McConnell's net worth was $22.8 million, according to the watchdog group OpenSecrets.org, which ranked McConnell as the tenth-wealthiest Senate member.

While the specific claim about becoming a multimillionaire earns a rating of “true” from Reality Check, McConnell hardly arrived in the position because of his own Senate salary.

McConnell earns $193,400 as a member of Senate leadership, congressional pay records indicate. Members of Congress have received pay increases since McConnell first took office in 1984.

The majority of McConnell's wealth comes from his marriage to Elaine Chao, whose family is wealthy.

In 2008, McConnell reported a tax-exempt money market fund of between $5 million and $25 million, which is the broad range that's provided in congressional financial disclosure forms.

The money was an inheritance from Chao's family, and caused McConnell's reported net worth to soar. The McConnell campaign called Grimes' claim a “despicable attack.”

The television ad makes several claims about McConnell's voting record, including that the senator voted against extending unemployment benefits 12 times this year.

“And, when asked about it, just laughs,” the narrator says.

The claim is not the whole story, according to Reality Check.

The ad references a January interview McConnell did about unemployment benefits with conservative talk radio host Lars Larson.

At the end of the interview, Larson told McConnell, “We wish you well, and we wish the people of Kentucky well. And I hope you vote against the unemployment benefits.”

 McConnell chuckled and responded, “Yeah. Thanks, Lars.”

Prior to that, McConnell offered a policy alternative during an eight-minute conversation. The senator proposed a deal that would extend unemployment benefits while delaying the individual mandate that's part of the Affordable Care Act.

“If you're going to do an unemployment extension, then we certainly ought to pay for it,” McConnell told Larson.

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