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Grimes responds to Chao's role on board

Published on NewsOK Modified: August 14, 2014 at 6:37 pm •  Published: August 14, 2014

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has some explaining for his wife's role as a board member of an organization that has spent $50 million to close coal-fired power plants, his Democratic challenger, Alison Lundergan Grimes, said Thursday.

Grimes declined to say, however, whether she thinks McConnell's wife, former U.S. labor secretary Elaine Chao, should resign from the board of Bloomberg Philanthropies, a charity founded by former New York City mayor and media mogul Michael Bloomberg.

"I think it's very disappointing news, and it raises serious questions that Sen. McConnell is going to have to answer," Grimes said after a Kentucky State Fair event, her first public comments about the matter.

McConnell's campaign hit back, saying it's President Barack Obama's policies that are ruining the coal sector and that Grimes is a supporter of the Democratic president, whose deep unpopularity in Kentucky is a drag on Grimes' campaign.

"Alison Lundergan Grimes was a delegate for President Obama after he declared his intention to bankrupt the coal industry," said McConnell campaign spokeswoman Allison Moore. "She can continue to attack Sen. McConnell's wife, but that doesn't change the fact that she has actively enabled the war on Kentucky coal."

Grimes said her pro-coal stance has been steadfast, and said she would work to protect coal jobs and safe working conditions in mines.

Coal policy has emerged as an overarching issue in Kentucky's hard-hitting Senate race, one of the most closely watched in the country as Republicans try to wrest away control from Democrats.

Obama's plan to impose stricter federal emissions standards on coal-fired power plants has drawn sharp criticism from McConnell and Grimes.

Kentucky is the nation's third-top coal producer, but eastern Kentucky has lost 7,000 coal-related jobs since 2012, the Kentucky Coal Association says.

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