Sen. Mitch McConnell backed a company that wanted $8.3 million to send mp3 players to Afghan tribesmen, while the lobbyist for the company helped line up $120,000 in campaign contributions for McConnell from his clients. Then McConnell voted -- twice -- against giving our troops abroad better body armor. We think it's time to tell this incredible story, and hold McConnell accountable, so we're rolling out a new ad today in Kentucky to do just that.
Here's more background: Hunter Bates is McConnell's former chief of staff who left to become a lobbyist. He represented an outfit in Kentucky that wanted a contract to send Chinese-made, iPod-like players to tribesmen in Afghanistan, supposedly to promote democracy (aid workers in Afghanistan have questioned whether the project was worth it). McConnell made sure Bates' clients got $8.3 million to do it. And Bates' clients filled McConnell's campaign coffers.
McConnell, an ardent opponent of public financing of elections, has shown time and again his willingness to side with his big money donors over the needs of his constituents and this is a pretty outrageous example of those misplaced priorities.
Of course, McConnell has already fired back against the ad, claiming that $8.3 million in poorly functioning mp3 players for Afghanis, and a vote against protecting our troops is "a lesson in how government ought to work." More like a lesson in how campaign fundraising works.
We're airing this ad during the season opener for the National Football League, as well as the University of Louisville football game. Hundreds of thousands of Kentuckians will tune in. But we want to extend our advertising through next week to follow the release of President George Bush's and General David Petraeus' Iraq report so if you can, please consider a donation to help us keep the ad running.