Tag: Mitch McConnell

26 years ago today: McConnell accused of exaggerating his record; Humana bans smoking — and an infant girl named Jennifer Lawrence is born

By Jim Hopkins
Boulevard Publisher

CJ front page August 15 1990
26 years ago today.

On Aug. 15, 1990, The Courier-Journal delivered a 52-page paper chock-a-block with news. President George H.W. Bush was rounding up support for an embargo against Iraq, retaliating for its invasion of Kuwait less than two weeks before. Sen. Mitch McConnell, still in his first term, was on the hot seat in his re-election campaign. Kentucky’s powerful tobacco industry still didn’t accept the dangers of smoking. And comedian Bob Hope and his pet poodle were in town. It was a humid Wednesday, with temperatures heading for 86 degrees. The news:

“U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell’s re-election campaign is extolling his 5½-year record with a wide range of radio commercials — at least two of which exaggerate the impact of his work,” CJ political writer Al Cross wrote in a page-one story. “Those two ads say McConnell worked out the financial problems of Big Rivers Electric Corp., and saved the Kentucky construction industry by casting the deciding vote against a presidential veto of a highway bill.”

The record, including statements from company and government officials, contradicted McConnell’s account, Cross said. But the Louisville Republican vigorously defended the commercials, saying they weren’t inaccurate or misleading. At the time, McConnell faced Democratic nominee Harvey Sloane, the former Louisville mayor and  county judge-executive.

Humana building
Humana Tower
Humana nixes smoking

Citing concerns about deaths linked to passive smoking, Humana said it would ban smoking at its corporate headquarters downtown and in all division offices starting Feb. 1, 1991. The health insurance giant’s decision came after a June report by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that about 3,800 lung-cancer related deaths per year among non-smokers are caused by secondhand cigarette smoke. Humana estimated only 1 in 7 employeees smoked, a decrease of about 35% from several years before.

The story noted that “the tobacco industry, which has never agreed that smoking is a hazard even to smokers themselves, has attacked the EPA findings as unsubstantiated.”

Comedian Bob Hope signed copies of his new book, “Don’t Shoot, It’s Only Me,” at the W.K. Stewart Booksellers in the Holiday Manor Shopping Center. The 87-year-old stayed at the Galt House with his wife Dolores and their poodle Baxter.

Bacons logoThat day’s CJ carried three full-page ads for Louisville-based Bacon’s Department Store, and four full pages of business news, including 2½ pages of stock listings. The Dow Jones Industrial Average had closed the day before at nearly 2,748 points.

ValuMarket was selling half-gallon cartons of Sealtest ice cream for $1.98. TWA offered roundtrip tickets to New York City for $158.

And unknown to most everyone reading that day’s paper, Jennifer Shrader Lawrence was born to Gary Lawrence, a construction worker, and his wife Karen, a children’s camp manager.


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Opinion: Paul no friend of coal industry, or its beleaguered miners; ‘he hasn’t done a single thing’

That’s according to John Winn Miller, a retired journalist, screenwriter and movie producer who took on Sen. Rand Paul in an op-ed piece in this morning’s Courier-Journal.

“Paul pretends to be a friend by railing against big government and the mythical ‘war on coal,'” Miller writes. “But actions speak louder than words. The reality: he hasn’t done a single thing or passed a single bill to help the coal industry, distressed coal counties or out-of-work miners.”

And he cites several examples where the senator’s actions went against the industry’s interests. Miller says Paul:

  • offered an amendment to waive some environmental regulations and wage requirements in high unemployment areas. In other words, screw the coal miners and the health of people living in Eastern Kentucky. It was overwhelmingly rejected (33-64) in the Republican-dominated Senate.
  • supports the Keystone Pipeline and competing industries like cheap natural gas from fracking that — along with the growth of green energy — have far more to do with the demise of coal production than environmental regulations.

Miller’s contention the Republican senator hasn’t helped the industry comes despite the fact it’s been one of his biggest financial backers, according to the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks Federal Election Commission data. In 2015-16, mining companies donated $129,250 of the total $9.5 million he took in, according to the center. The top 10 sources where industries were identified:

Rand Paul industry contributions 2015-16

Paul, an ophthalmologist, got the most support from health professionals: $471,241, or nearly 5% of all.

Coal on the way out

Miller writes: “The reality that Paul won’t admit is that coal production in Kentucky has been declining for decades –- long before President Barack Obama. It is the marketplace and the global shift to clean energy that is killing coal. Even China is starting to reduce coal mining and use.”

Indeed, statewide last year, Kentucky had only 9,493 coal mining jobs, a 46% decline from 17,670 as recently as 2008, according to the latest data from the Energy and Environment Cabinet. Mine operators produced 61.4 million tons, nearly half as much as the 121.2 million in 2008.

Jim Gray

Paul, who’s in his first Senate term, is up for re-election in November; he’s facing Democratic challenger Jim Gray of Lexington, the candidate Miller says is the only one “with a real, four-point plan to help the coal industry and revitalize coal-dependent counties as well as the ability to work with both parties.”

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Roadhouse whiffs Q2 sales, and shares plunge 8%; McD done with antibiotics-fed chicken; Kindred closes $39M Arkansas deal; and Pizza Hut workers in S.C. score $50 touchdown

A news summary focused on 10 big employers; updated 8:11 p.m.

TEXAS ROADHOUSE said today it missed second-quarter revenue estimates, and also disclosed that same-store sales in the current quarter had slowed vs. Q2. The results were released after markets closed. In after-hours trading, shares tumbled 7.9% to $43.94. The Louisville-based steakhouse chain said earnings were 47 cents per share on revenue of $508.8 million. Wall Street had forecast EPS of 45 cents and $509.8 million in revenue (Investors Business Daily and press release). Today’s report came less than a week after several analysts downgraded Roadhouse’s stock, sending shares down 6%.

KFC bucket of chickenKFC: Raising pressure on KFC to follow suit, McDonald’s said today it’s completely stopped buying chickens raised with antibiotics meant for humans, a step completed months ahead of schedule. The chain previously estimated the change would be completed by March 2017 (CNBC). The longtime KFC critic on the issue, the Natural Resources Defense Council, reiterated its call for the Yum unit to stop buying from chicken suppliers using antibiotics. “KFC,” the group said today, “stands out as the signature chicken purveyor that is far behind” (NRDC).

KINDRED and the Arkansas Department of Health said they had completed a previously announced agreement for the Louisville hospital and nursing company to buy the state agency’s in-home health care operations for about $39 million. The deal includes licenses to provide home health, hospice and personal care services throughout the state. Kindred won the award through a bidding process (press release).

AMAZON shares shot up to a new record high today — $770.50, up 1.5% — before closing lower at $767.74. The retailer’s stock is now up 43% from a year ago vs. a much smaller 3% for the broader S&P 500 index (Google Finance). Amazon employs 6,000 workers in the Louisville area at mammoth distribution centers in Jeffersonville, and in Bullitt County’s Shepherdsville. (More about Amazon.)

Ford DAV car
One of the newest DAV vans.

FORD received a city building permit today to proceed with $14 million of planned improvements at its Kentucky Truck Plant on Chamberlain Lane (Courier-Journal). Also today, the automaker said it donated another eight vans to the DAV Transportation Network, a volunteer group that takes ill and disabled veterans to VA medical centers across the country. The automaker said today it has now given 207 vehicles to the group over the past 20 years; the program dates back 94 years to when founder Henry Ford provided Model Ts as transportation for disabled vets (press release). In Louisville, Ford employs nearly 10,000 at its truck and vehicle assembly factories; more about its local operations.

Cam Newton

PIZZA HUT employees in Spartanburg, S.C., didn’t learn the mysterious customer in black who showed up 15 minutes after closing time for a cheese pizza was Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton until after he’d driven away. But he did leave a big tip last Thursday, paying $50 for the pie. “It definitely came in handy,” manager Amanda McCluney told WCNC, “because I was actually short $50 because I’m moving and I needed that to go towards my U-Haul and my storage unit” (WCNC).

In other news, U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell said there’s a “great likelihood” that he’ll seek a seventh term in 2020. “I’m at the top of my game,” McConnell, 74, told WKYT in Lexington. “I think I’ve been effective in serving our people, and there’s a great likelihood I’ll run again” (Associated Press via ABC). In office since 1985, the Republican is Kentucky’s longest-serving U.S. senator (Wikipedia).

Humana co-founder Jones gives $250K more to PAC aiming to flip state House, joining Trump and other heavy-hitters

David Jones Sr

David Jones Sr.‘s contribution is on top of the $200,000 he gave to Kentuckians for Strong Leadership last September, and $125,000 he gave in February 2014 — a total $575,000, according to new Federal Election Commission records.

The super PAC was created three years ago by allies of U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell to help Kentucky’s senior senator win re-election in 2014, according to The Courier-Journal.

Donald Trump

With McConnell’s win in November 2014, the PAC’s priority is now helping Republicans capture a majority in the Kentucky House of Representatives this fall. If they succeed, Kentucky would be the last state government in the south to fall completely under GOP control.

Jones’ most recent donation came May 13, according to the PAC’s second-quarter report, and formed the bulk of the $290,000 receipts for the period. Since it was launched, the PAC has raised at least $8.3 million from 164 donors, according to FEC records. It had $5.5 million on hand at the end of the quarter.

Robert McNair

High-profile PAC donors include Donald Trump, the newly nominated GOP candidate for the White House; he gave $60,000 in October 2014 and May 2013. But Jones has been most generous, with his total $575,000 more than any other single donor, according to a Boulevard analysis of FEC records. Another top donor was Robert McNair of Houston, who gave $500,000 in September 2014; he’s founder and CEO of the NFL’s Houston Texans. And here are four more:

  • Lawrence F. DeGeorge of Jupiter, Fla., $500,000 in two donations, in July 2014 and November 2013. He lists his employer as venture capital firm LPL Investment Group
  • Christine Chao of New York, $400,000 in September 2014; she lists her occupation as self-employed. (McConnell’s wife, Elaine Chao, has a sister named Christine, but it’s unclear whether they two women are one in the same. Through the wealthy Chao family, McConnell is one of the richest U.S. senators, with as much as $43 million)
  • John W. Childs of Vero Beach, Fla., $390,000 combined in August and May 2014 and April 2013. He’s chairman of his namesake private-equity firm.
  • Murray Energy Corp. of St. Clarksville, Ohio, $300,000, also in September 2014. The coal producer announced earlier this month that it may lay off up to 4,400 coal miners by September in Kentucky, Ohio, West Virginia, Illinois, Utah and Pennsylvania

Read this Boulevard spreadsheet to see all 164 donors.

GOP leads in June

Overall, the Kentucky Republican Party raised $209,000 in June, and spent $105,000, giving it $1.6 million in the bank, according to its FEC report for the month.

The Kentucky Democratic Party didn’t do nearly as well. The state Democratic Central Executive Committee took in only $68,000 during the month and spent $102,000, leaving just $72,651 on hand.

Rand Paul’s stock portfolio jumped double-digits last year. (Also: he likes silver coins)

By Jim Hopkins
Boulevard Publisher

The value of U.S. Senator Rand Paul‘s stocks, real estate and other investments rose as much as 15% last year, according to a new analysis of his latest annual financial disclosure report.

Official Portrait

The Kentucky Republican and former White House hopeful reported assets valued at between $670,000 and $2 million, based on the pre-set ranges members of Congress use in their public reports.

On the low side, that’s up 15% from $585,000 in 2014. On the high side, it’s up a smaller 11% from $1.8 million that year, according to the report and the Center for Responsive Politics, a non-partisan campaign finance watchdog group in Washington. In 2014, Paul, 53, ranked No. 67 among the wealthiest senators, according to the center, which  hasn’t published 2015 figures for yet. Boulevard arrived at the 2015 numbers in a recent review of his latest report, filed last month.

Paul’s report, as with other members of congress, also includes assets held by his wife Kelley Paul (photo, below) and their children. Most of the family’s investments were in stock and money market funds and real estate, with four valued as high as $250,000. There was one notable exception: a collection of silver coins valued at $15,001 to $50,000. Here’s Paul’s 2015 report, plus his 2014 report.

Paul is an ophthalmologist and U.S. senator since 2011. Earlier this year, he suspended his White House campaign after poor results in the GOP primaries.

His portfolio is dwarfed considerably by Kentucky’s other senator, Mitch McConnell. He and his wife valued their assets at between $9.6 million to $43.2 million last year. In 2014, he ranked 11th among the wealthiest members of the upper house. And Paul’s assets hardly amount to a rounding error compared to the overall richest member of Congress: Republican Rep. Darryl Issa of California, with an estimated $437 million. He built that fortune making car alarms.

Here are the Pauls in 2013, attending Time’s 100 Most Influential People in the World party; the magazine included him on its list:

Embed from Getty Images

Ka-ching! McConnell’s wealth jumped as much as 23% last year — to $43.2 million, new disclosure shows

McConnell,Mitch-012309-18422-jf 0024

Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell and his wife saw the value of their stocks, cash and other investments climb last year, cementing his status as one of the wealthiest U.S. senators, his new financial disclosure report shows. But the source of his riches — via his wife Elaine Chao‘s immigrant father — also demonstrates the fine line the senate majority leader must walk in supporting the GOP’s presumptive White House nominee: Donald Trump.

Senators make the finance reports public each year, valuing investments according to a predetermined range. In 2015, his portfolio was worth $9.6 million to $43.2 million, according to a new Boulevard analysis. On the low side, that was a 2% increase from 2014. On the high side: a whopping 23%.

Mitch McConnell financial disclosures 2004-2015 final

The vast majority of McConnell’s wealth is held by his economist wife, Chao (photo with senator, top), whose father made a shipping trade fortune. Chao, 63, was U.S. labor secretary during the George W. Bush Administration.

Boulevard examined the senator’s latest report, filed May 16, to arrive at his 2015 estimates. The midpoint of their values would be $26.4 million vs. $22.2 million in 2014, according to figures compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, a non-partisan watchdog group in Washington that tracks political campaign finance. The center hasn’t published estimates for 2015 yet.

But in 2014, it ranked McConnell the 11th richest senator. No. 1: Democratic Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, with an average net worth of $243 million — a fortune he built investing in telecommunications. Here are the 25 richest.

Tripping over Trump

Chao’s parents fled to Taiwan from mainland China when the Chinese Communists seized power in 1949, according to Wikipedia. In 1961, when she was eight years old, Chao immigrated to the U.S. on a freighter with her mother and two younger sisters. Her father had arrived in New York three years earlier after receiving a scholarship. He later went on to launch shipper Foremost Group.

McConnell has offered tepid support to Trump at best, citing his inflammatory anti-immigration postures. In an interview with Yahoo Global News Anchor Katie Couric Tuesday, McConnell said the New York billionaire’s proposals could threaten the GOP’s standing with immigrant voters. “America is changing,” he told Couric, “the Republican Party clearly doesn’t need to write off either Asian or Latino Americans, and that is not a good place to be for long-term competitiveness.”

Related: Here’s McConnell’s  report from last year, plus his 2014 report for comparison. And here’s Sen. Rand Paul’s new report, plus his 2014 report.