Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has found himself stuck with the unflattering nickname “Moscow Mitch” in recent months, in part because he refuses to take action against a president who has shown a disturbing willingness to bend over backward for Russian dictator Vladimir Putin and more recently because of his efforts to direct funding from the U.S. Treasury Department to a Kentucky aluminum facility with links to one of Putin’s cronies.
The Daily Beast is now reporting that the aluminum plant story might be even worse than it originally appeared. While McConnell was all too happy to direct Treasury assistance to the factory for some reason, he simultaneously worked to prevent similar funds from being used to help Kentucky coal miners in the form of health care and pensions. The obvious question this raises is why he would want to manipulate federal funding to assist some of his constituents but not others. With that in mind, the Russian element of the aluminum plant deal becomes even more suspicious.
McConnell voted to lift sanctions on the Russian company Rusal and shortly after that Rusal invested a massive injection of cash into the Kentucky plant. Oleg Deripaska, a close ally of Putin, was the former president of Rusal. Explains Erin Banco for The Daily Beast:
“Just weeks after the Treasury Department announced the official de-listing of Rusal, the company announced a $200 million investment in the Braidy Industries aluminum plant in the northeastern part of Kentucky. Democrats raised questions about how much McConnell knew about Rusal’s investment plan before he voted for sanctions relief. Rusal is the only outside investor in the plant.”
It appears that McConnell played a crucial role in the construction 0f the plant by arguing that federal funds be used to assist the project. The help included $4 million in government money to prepare the construction site. During the same stretch of time that he was fighting behind closed doors for the plant funding, McConnell shut down a bill that would have helped Kentucky coal miners. Senator Joe Manchin (D-KY) was pushing one of the main advocates for the coal miners, and he slammed McConnell for his actions.
“There are amendments that benefit Americans and West Virginians that are being blocked by one person: Mitch McConnell. He is the sole person that is blocking a vote on my amendment to… secure coal miners’ health care and pensions, even though it has bipartisan support and would better the lives of every West Virginian, Kentuckian and American,” said Manchin.
Coal miners are understandably furious with McConnell and are threatening to vote against him during his reelection campaign if he doesn’t take steps to secure their much-needed pensions. The removal of McConnell from the Senate would be a huge win for American democracy and civilization as a whole, so there is at least some chance this story has a happy ending. Kentucky miners should vote in a Democrat who will stand up for their interests rather than those of wealthy Russians.
Read the full story here.