REALITY CHECK: Grimes, pro-McConnell ads need more explanation

Published: Jul. 23, 2014 at 12:51 AM EDT|Updated: Sep. 6, 2014 at 1:43 AM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – New ads from U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes and a third-party group supporting Mitch McConnell need clarification, a WAVE 3 News Reality Check found.

The ads, airing across Kentucky more than three months away from the election, use recycled claims that link Grimes with President Barack Obama and Sen. Mitch McConnell with a comment he reportedly made about job growth.

Grimes, whose campaign has been airing a Medicare-themed ad that Reality Check ruled “false” earlier in July,

in a now-recurring series to ask McConnell a staged question.

“Mr. McConnell, in the last two years, we’ve lost almost half of our coal jobs in Eastern Kentucky,” said David Stanley, who Grimes introduces as having lost his own coal job. “Why’d you say it’s not your job to bring jobs to Kentucky?”

As in the first ad, Grimes and Stanley pretend to wait in silence for an answer.

The claim needs clarification, Reality Check has found.

Stanley, who the Grimes campaign says is from Putney, Ky., is correct that Eastern Kentucky has lost nearly have of its coal jobs since the start of 2012. During that time, the region has lost about 6,000 jobs, or about 45 percent,


But neither side of the coal debate mentions McConnell as a culprit.

The factors for the Eastern Kentucky coal job losses are numerous, Tom FitzGerald, director of the pro-environment group Kentucky Resources Council, said in an interview.

Eastern Kentucky coal has become more expensive to mine, as the industry faces competition from natural gas and tougher regulatory policies, FitzGerald said.

Bill Bissett, president of the Kentucky Coal Association, said McConnell shouldn’t take any blame.

“I can say with great confidence that Sen. McConnell and his staff have done everything they can to support Kentucky’s coal miners and coal production,” Bissett said Tuesday, blaming the Environmental Protection Agency instead.

The second part of Stanley’s claim references a comment McConnell reportedly gave to the Beattyville Enterprise newspaper.

“Economic development is a Frankfort issue,” the paper quoted McConnell as saying in April. “That is not my job.”

McConnell has said he was misquoted; the newspaper’s editor stood by his story, and Grimes’ campaign has pounced on the issue. There is no known audio recording of the exchange.

Meanwhile, the pro-McConnell group Kentucky Opportunity Coalition began airing

Tuesday that again tries to tie Grimes with President Obama.

It attacks Grimes for telling a “lie” in her Medicare-themed ad in early July, then claims Grimes has made a habit of not telling the truth.

“In fact, she’s done this before: caught running a dishonest attack, caught breaking her promise to defend Kentucky coal in Washington,” the announcer says.

There was a recording of that event, in which Grimes didn’t publicly defend coal to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid at a fundraiser.

The McConnell campaign has criticized Grimes, whose campaign said Grimes talked with Reid in private about the coal issue. Again, there’s no audio recording of that.

But the Kentucky Opportunity Coalition’s ad is misleading for another reason, Reality Check found.

The ad makes it seem like the Bowling Green Daily News, which is cited on screen, said that Grimes had broken her promise.

But it’s only McConnell’s campaign manager, Jesse Benton, who’s quoted as saying Grimes “made a promise, broke that promise”


The newspaper didn’t make that assertion.

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