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Saturday, December 3, 2016

Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes (D) has once again outraised Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) in their 2014 Senate race — and all of a sudden, McConnell no longer seems so enthusiastic about the use of money as free speech.

In the first three months of 2014, Grimes raised $2.7 million, edging McConnell’s $2.4 million haul. McConnell still holds a decisive financial advantage in the race; his campaign has almost $10.4 million in cash on hand, more than double Grimes’ total.

That said, McConnell’s campaign has already spent more than $7 million in the 2014 election, only to see a slight decline in his polling numbers. And it seems that the new fundraising totals have made the Republican leader’s campaign defensive.

“The very same ultra-rich liberal elite who bankrolled Barack Obama into the White House are pulling out all the stops for Alison Lundergan Grimes,” spokeswoman Allison Moore told the Louisville Courier-Journal. “Kentuckians know darn well her entire campaign is funded by those who seek to destroy Kentucky values and our way of life and the only way they can accomplish that is by getting rid of the man responsible for stopping them, Mitch McConnell.”

Moore’s implication — that Grimes is wrong for taking money from wealthy out-of-state donors — is rather ironic, considering that few politicians raise money from the “ultra-rich elite” better than McConnell does. According to the Wall Street Journal, as of December 31, 80 percent of McConnell’s campaign contributions came from donors outside of Kentucky (good for a total of more than $9.3 million). And the top donors to his campaign committee — which include Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, and Goldman Sachs — don’t exactly scream “Kentucky values.”

McConnell has also benefited from outside groups that have jumped directly into the race; $3.4 million has already been spent in support of the Republican, according to GOP ad-tracking firm SMG Delta.

Although McConnell’s campaign is now feigning outrage that Grimes has raised big sums from “Obama’s liberal Hollywood friends” like Jeffrey Katzenberg, the senator is generally one of the nation’s most outspoken defenders of outside money in politics. In 2012, McConnell led the opposition to the DISCLOSE Act, which would have required political groups to disclose campaign contributions of more than $10,000. At the time, the minority leader argued that full disclosure could be used as a “political weapon,” enabling the government to unleash “harassment and intimidation tactics” against those who donate to opposition candidates.

Today, it appears that McConnell would like to turn the weapon against the “liberal elite” backing Grimes.

Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr

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