Sen. Mitch McConnell’s Senate campaign has called out a liberal Kentucky super PAC for “race-baiting,” after the group tweeted out racially-focused messages about the senator’s wife, former Cabinet secretary Elaine Chao,
The tweets were first reported by WFPL in Louisville.
Chao, who served as secretary of labor, was born in China and moved to the United States as a child.
In a tweet, Progress Kentucky suggested that Chao favored the country of her birth over the U.S. during her time as labor secretary.
“This woman has the ear of @McConnellPress — she’s his #wife. May explain why your job moved to #China!” says the tweet, posted on February 14. It links to an article posted by radio host Jeff Rense, saying that Chao, as labor secretary, favored outsourcing jobs to China over keeping jobs in this country.
The group has posted a number of other tweets noting that Chao’s family, which has links to the Chinese government, has donated money to the Kentucky GOP. Those donations, Progress Kentucky tweeted, show that there are “more non-Kentuckians #BUYING our election.”
On Tuesday, the group tweeted a link to a Chinese newspaper, saying: “China Premier grateful to McConnell father-in-law/@KYGOP contributor-4 his role in developing China industry.”
McConnell’s relationship with his father-in-law has been a subject of criticism from opponents in the past, and McConnell has said it does not influence his decisions relating to foreign policy.
Later Tuesday, after the WFPL article had been published, the group retweeted a comment from someone else on Twitter.
“She is married to Mitch McConell is’t she? It stands to reason why she wld be down on american workers, her husband,” tweeted someone named “leona barrow,” read the tweet that Progress Kentucky retweeted.
McConnell campaign manager Jesse Benton said “Progress Kentucky should be ashamed of themselves.”
“Secretary Chao and her family are shining examples of the American Dream: salt-of-the-earth folks who escaped oppression, came here with nothing, joined our great melting pot, worked exceptionally hard to build a thriving business, and then dedicated so much of their lives to giving back,” Benton said in a statement provided to The Daily Caller.
“It is unconscionable that anyone would use blatant race-baiting for political gain,” he added. “Progress Kentucky should be ashamed of themselves. We hope all Americans can agree that these disgusting tactics have no place in American politics as we try to bring people together to solve our difficult problems.”
Progress Kentucky defended itself to WFPL.
“It’s a fine line, and that is not our overall message,” spokesman Curtis Morrison told them. “We’ve got some Tweets there that shouldn’t be there and I’ll make sure they come down. We don’t want to cross that line. We’re not after anybody because they are an immigrant, but I think it’s fair to question whether or not there’s a conflict of interest.”
UPDATE: Progress Kentucky issued a statement Tuesday evening apologizing for the offending tweet.
Progress Kentucky is dedicated to ensuring the people of Kentucky have the kind of representation in the US Senate they deserve. In an effort to educate KY voters as to the varied interests of Sen. McConnell we provided information about connections between the senator and business and government interests in China. This information included an inappropriate comment on the ethnicity of the former Secretary of Labor, Elaine Chao, the senator’s wife.
We apologize to the secretary for that unnecessary comment and have deleted the tweets in question. In addition, we have put a review process in place to ensure tweets and other social media communications from Progress KY are reviewed and approved prior to posting.
Senator McConnell’s record deserves a thorough and legitimate airing. We believe that after fair examination of it Kentuckians will agree that Senator McConnell has been wrong over and over on the issues that matter. We will continue to inform Kentucky voters the important issues at stake in this election.