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Birds of a feather, right?

Elaine Chao

So does that make Elaine Chao, Mitch McConnell’s spouse, a closet you-know-what?

A Liberal?

Those of us who pack union cards remember the senator’s significant other as the conservative, anti-labor secretary of labor under conservative, anti-labor President George W. Bush.

Well, now it’s all over the news that Chao is on the board of directors of Bloomberg Philanthropies, the foundation that agreed to chip in a cool $50 million to the Sierra Club’s “Beyond Coal” campaign. The campaign’s objective is to end the country’s reliance on “dirty coal, plant-by-plant, community-by-community, state-by-state.”

Chao protests that Bloomberg Philanthropies got involved in the anti-coal effort before she got on the board. A board flak backs her up.

So does Joe Romm of Climate Progress online. But he said Chao’s argument has three big holes. “First, yes, it’s true that Chao joined in April 2012, and, Bloomberg announced the initiative in July 2011 as we reported at the time,” Romm argued. But he added that Bloomberg made it plain in its 2013-2014 annual report that its partnership with the Sierra Club is ongoing.

Second, he suggested that most people “don’t join the boards of foundations whose central mission they oppose — they resign from them.” The Bloomberg website makes no bones about the foundation “helping to end our nation’s reliance on dirty coal.” Citing Kentucky media reports, Romm said Chao was on the board when at least half of the grant checks were cut to the Sierra Club.

Third – and this hasn’t collected as much press -- Chao is also on the board of Wells Fargo. “Last year, Wells Fargo explained its deepening efforts to reduce funding for mountain top removal mining (MTR) — a particularly dirty form of coal extraction — in its 2013 ‘Environmental and Social Risk Management Report,’” Romm wrote.

Even so, Chao’s spouse is still Johnny One Note on coal. McConnell claims that he’s coal’s protector and that Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Democrat who wants his job, is President Obama’s steadfast ally in the “liberal war on coal.”

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Grimes, a moderate, has distanced herself from the president’s coal policies. She also got endorsed by the United Mine Workers of America.

The boss at Bloomberg Philanthropies is New York millionaire and ex-mayor Michael Bloomberg, a Democrat-turned-Republican-turned independent. Bloomberg is a proud anti-coal warrior. He endorsed Obama for president in 2012, to boot.

While the National Rifle Association endorsed Chao’s roomie, Bloomberg is a big-time booster of stricter gun control laws, too. He pledged spend $50 million of his own money toward a grassroots movement aimed at convincing lawmakers to pass tighter gun laws. The NRA’s top lobbyist blasted Bloomberg as an “arrogant hypocrite.”

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Anyway, the UMWA issued a statement musing, "One would think that, as the spouse of a Kentucky politician, she would choose more carefully when it comes to taking a leadership role in an organization that had recently invested in the destruction of the American coal industry and the jobs of American coal miners."

The union-busting coal barons backing McConnell seem fine with Chao being on the Bloomberg board. I haven’t heard that the NRA is withdrawing its endorsement.

Of course Chao is no liberal. She’s a union-despising, Social Darwinist, to-heck-with-you-I’ve-got-mine millionaire, like her hubby. (Though Bloomberg is liberal on social issues, he's not exactly union-friendly either.)

Even so, might the Chao-Bloomberg coal-and-guns guilt-by-association thing cause trouble for the captain of Team Switch, especially among tea party-tilting players who joined only after McConnell beat their guy Bevin in the May primary?

[dc]"I[/dc]f she [Chao] is on that board and he definitely is for coal, I think it's time for her to resign," Marilyn Kirtley told a Louisville WDRB-TV reporter who was covering a McConnell campaign stop in Greenville, in western Kentucky coal country.

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Evidently Kirtley is on Team Mitch. Yet her captain insists his wife is staying on the board.

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