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The Koch brothers -- David and Charles -- are the right-wing billionaire co-owners of Koch Industries. As two of the richest people in the world, they are key funders of the right-wing infrastructure, including the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the State Policy Network (SPN). In SourceWatch, key articles on the Kochs include: Koch Brothers, Koch Industries, Americans for Prosperity, American Encore, and Freedom Partners.
- 1 Ties to the Koch Brothers
- 2 Record and Controversies
- 2.1 Talking Strategy at Koch Donor Retreat
- 2.2 "Worst Day of My Political Life" Not 9/11 or 2008 Crisis, but Campaign Finance Reform?
- 2.3 Iraq War
- 2.4 Oil
- 2.5 Environmental record
- 2.6 Jack Abramoff connection
- 2.7 Clash Over 9/11 bill
- 2.8 9/11 Commission recommendations
- 2.9 Tobacco issues
- 2.10 Marked funds for firm under investigation
- 3 Bio
- 4 Money in politics
- 5 Committees and affiliations
- 6 More background data
- 7 Contact
- 8 Articles and resources
- 9 References
Ties to the Koch Brothers
McConnell has attended at least one Koch network donor summit, the June 2014 retreat in California, where he spoke alongside Koch operative [Gentry] and Koch Industries general counsel Mark Holden on a panel titled "Free Speech: Defending First Amendment Rights." A recording of his remarks was obtained by The Nation and The Undercurrent. He began, "I want to start by thanking you, Charles and David for the important work you’re doing. I don’t know where we’d be without you," referring to Charles and David Koch.
The recording also included McConnell's statements on a key Koch issue: fighting campaign finance limits and disclosure rules. Speaking to a room of wealthy donors, McConnell said, "All Citizens United did was to level the playing field for corporate speech…. We now have, I think, the most free and open system we've had in modern times. The Supreme Court allowed all of you to participate in the process in a variety of different ways. You can give to the candidate of your choice. You can give to Americans for Prosperity, or something else, a variety of different ways to push back against the party of government."
Record and Controversies
Talking Strategy at Koch Donor Retreat
In a recording made at the Koch network donor retreat in June 2014, McConnell described plans to "go after" Democrats by attaching riders to spending bills. "No money can be spent to do this or to do that. We’re going to go after them on healthcare, on financial services, on the Environmental Protection Agency, across the board [inaudible]. All across the federal government, we’re going to go after it." A full transcript of McConnell's remarks is available here.
"Worst Day of My Political Life" Not 9/11 or 2008 Crisis, but Campaign Finance Reform?
In comments made to wealthy political donors at the Koch network retreat in June 2014, McConnell stated that "The worst day of my political life was when President George W. Bush signed McCain-Feingold into law in the early part of his first administration."
As The Nation noted, "To put that in perspective, Mitch McConnell’s thirty-five-year career in the Senate saw the 9/11 terrorist attacks that killed thousands of Americans, the 2008 housing meltdown that threatened the entire economy and Barack Obama’s election, to cite a conservative bête noire."
McConnell voted for the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq in Oct. 2002.
Mitch McConnell has voted in favor of big oil companies on 100% of important oil-related bills from 2005-2007, according to Oil Change International. These bills include Iraq war funding, climate change studies, clean energy, and emissions. See below for oil money in politics.
Amendment to FY2005 Defense Authorization Act
In 2004, during the debate over the FY2005 Defense Authorization Act, McConnell offered an alternative amendment (S.AMDT.3472) to that proposed by Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.). McConnell's amendment required the president to submit a public report to Congress on the strategy of U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq regarding stabilization and rebuilding no later than 120 days after the bill passed. Opponents, mostly Democrats, argued the measure was not strong enough, for unlike that proposed by Kennedy, it did not require President Bush to provide an estimate regarding future troop levels in Iraq. The amendment passed, unlike Kennedy's, in a 71-27 vote.
President Bush's troop "surge" in Iraq
In late January 2007, Senate Minority Leader McConnell said that Republicans would not attempt to filibuster a non-binding resolution opposing the "surge."
On February 5, 2007, the Senate planned to address several of the nonbinding resolutions concerning the troop "surge." Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader McConnell were unable, however, to agree on which resolutions would be debated and the manner in which they would be considered. Before the debate began, Reid offered Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) a choice. Either all three proposed resolutions could come to a vote, with a simple majority needed for passing any of them, or a debate and vote would be held only on the resolutions introduced by Sens. John Warner (R-Va.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.), with each requiring sixty votes to pass. McConnell, however, wanted all three resolutions to face a sixty-vote requirement, likely because it was believed only the Gregg measure could reach this threshold. In the end, the two sides could not reach an agreement, and Republicans blocked debate on the bill. Following an attempted cloture vote on one of the measures, which Republicans successfully filibustered, McConnell downplayed the vote as a mere procedural hurdle, calling it a “bump in the road” and added, “We are ready and anxious to have this debate this week.”
On February 17, another cloture vote was attempted on a troop "surge" resolution, but it also failed. Again, the filibuster was caused by a disagreement between Senate leaders. McConnell refused to support a vote on the resolution unless Majority Leader Reid also allowed a vote on a resolution promising that the Senate would continue to fund the war.
Attempts to block Iraq spending bill that would bring troops home
On March 26, 2007, McConnell asserted that although he would attempt to block a Democratic effort to force troop withdrawal contained in the Iraq spending bill, he would most likely not push to filibuster the measure, as he was sure that President Bush will veto the package. 
"Our goal is to pass it quickly... Our troops need the money." 
Unable to override Bush's veto, Democrats would have to redraft the bill without a "surrender deadline," he said. The legislation would require that Bush begin pulling out some troops right away with the goal of ending combat missions by March 31, 2008. 
Despite the Democrat's first attempt at including a deadline for troop withdrawal from Iraq, McConnell expressed confidence following the vote that Bush’s request for a “clean spending bill” (one without any calls for withdrawal) would ultimately pass. He stated, “It may take two tries to get there, but I think that’s very likely going to be the final outcome.”
When the first bill passed both chambers and then was vetoed by the President, Democrats attempted a second spending bill without a timetable, which only provided short term funding for the war. McConnell still voiced strong opposition to this provision.
- Main article: U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans' Care, Katrina Recovery, and Iraq Accountability Appropriations Act, 2007 (H.R.2206)
Following a failed cloture vote on Sen. Russ Feingold's (D-Wis.) amendment (S.AMDT.1098) to end funding for the Iraq War in 2008, another attempt to use a spending bill to withdrawal U.S. forces, Minority Leader McConnell stated that "once again, an overwhelming bipartisan majority rejected giving our enemy a timeline for withdrawal...The U.S. Senate has continued to show that an arbitrary surrender date is a non-starter. We need to move forward with the business of ensuring our troops have the funding, training and equipment they need to complete their mission."
For more information on environmental legislation, see the Energy and Environment Policy Portal
Hold on Senate Campaign Disclosure Parity Act
In April 2007, after a Republican Senator placed an anonymous hold on the Senate Campaign Disclosure Parity Act of 2007, which would require Senators to file their campaign finance reports electronically to the Federal Election Commission, the Sunlight Foundation led a campaign to try and discover the identity of the anonymous senator. The eventually sought to procure the name from Minority Leader McConnell. Since all objections to legislation must be lodged with the party leader, McConnell was sure to know who was behind the objection. McConnell refused to release the name of the senator behind the hold. He stated that the failure of the bill's passage lied at the feet of Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) for refusing to bring the bill up for a floor vote. When Sens. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.} argued that the bill must pass by unanimous consent to avoid unnecessary amendments, McConnell admitted that the objecting Senator wished to add amendments to the bill.
On May 7, 2007, Sen. Feinstein sent a letter to McConnell asking for his help in passing the bill. Sen. Feinstein wrote, "I am ready to meet with [the objecting] Senators to discuss their amendments and try to address their concerns." As of yet, McConnell has not publicly responded.
On June 26, McConnell argued that he would not allow S.1, an important lobbying reform bill (which had passed), to go into conference unless Senate Republicans were allowed to add an amendment to the Senate Campaign Disclosure Parity Act (a so-called "poison pill" amendment). The amendment would allow party committees, like the RNC or the DSCC, to coordinate campaign activities with candidate committees. The amendment was widely opposed to by a majority of Democrats and would not only make the bill's passage impossible in conference or in the House, but also endanger the entire lobbying and ethics reform package. This maneuver was blocked by Majority Leader Reid, but resulted in stalling the appointment of Senate conferees on S. 1.
- Main article: Senate Campaign Disclosure Parity Act of 2007
Legislative Transparency and Accountability Act of 2007
On June 28, 2007, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) blocked a deal between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader McConnell that would have started up long-stalled conference proceedings on the Legislative Transparency and Accountability Act of 2007. DeMint made an objection to the agreement by phone to the Senate floor, minutes after McConnell had said Republicans would drop their objections to naming conferees. DeMint argued that he would not let the bill proceed until certain earmark reforms were accepted. He stated, "We will not have earmark reform during this year’s appropriations process. That is why this is being done," DeMint charged on the floor, adding later that "the only reason to go to conference with [the rules] in is to take them out." Democrats responded, Harry Reid commenting, "Here we are, seconds from going to conference and a call comes in to the Republican cloak room. I understand the Minority Leader has a responsibility to take that ... but the eyes of the nation are on us... to not let us go to conference on some petty issue that my friend has raised is really bad.”
- Main article: Legislative Transparency and Accountability Act of 2007
Jack Abramoff connection
McConnell "said through his spokesman that the money given to him and his political committee by three [American Indian] tribes will be donated to the Wayside Christian Mission in Louisville, which helps the poor and homeless. While federal records show McConnell received $18,500, his office's accounting showed $19,500, and that is what will be given to Wayside," James R. Carroll reported in the January 5, 2006, Louisville, Kentucky, Courier-Journal.
Clash Over 9/11 bill
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and McConnell are disputing a provision to a 9/11 Bill. The current legislation gives collective bargaining rights to Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screeners. Republicans have blasted Democrats, arguing that the bill is a giveaway to the labor interests that have given crucial political support to the new majority. Meanwhile, the Democrats say the provision is a necessary clause for this homeland security bill.
9/11 Commission recommendations
On June 26, 2007, Congress Democrats expressed the plan to push for the passage of a bill implementing terrorism-prevention measures suggested by the 9/11 commission. The goal would to pass the bill before the July 4 recess, though it was expected that Senate Republicans, led by Minority Leader McConnell, would probably object to the quick consideration necessary the bill to be sent to the president before the recess. One Democratic House aide commented, "If Sen. McConnell and the Republican leadership in the Senate chose obstruction on this legislation, it serves no one’s interests but the special interests."
From tobacco industry documents, a 1995 internal R.J. Reynolds email indicates support of Sen. McConnell enjoys from RJR, and Sen. McConnell's support for the tobacco industry:
McConnell is up for reelection in 1996 so don't be surprised if he raises that point and the need for RJRT and the industry to help often and early. As we have done during his previous elections, we will provide maximum help very early...The Senator is our strongest supporter on the product liability and the effective date issue for punitive damages...McConnell is likely to be our preferred point person on the FDA issues in both Appropriations and other legislative vehicles...
Marked funds for firm under investigation
Sen. Mitch McConnell, pushed $25 million in earmarked federal funds for a British defense contractor that is under criminal investigation by the U.S. Justice Department for bribery. He had taken at least $53,000 in campaign donations from BAE's political action committees and employees since his 2002 re-election. McConnell's earmarks included $12.2 million for five-inch Naval gun mount overhauls; $8 million for Naval destroyer weapons modernization; and $4.8 million for ammunition pallets for Naval ships. "Most politicians decide that a scandal is a good time to stop doing business with a company, at least until the scandal is over, particularly when we're talking about a criminal investigation over bribery. You would think that a member of Congress would want to steer clear of anyone accused of bribery," said Melanie Sloan, the executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.
McConnell was born February 20, 1942 in Alabama and raised in south Louisville, Kentucky. He graduated from the University of Louisville College of Arts and Sciences in 1964, and from the University of Kentucky College of Law in 1967. McConnell gained experience on Capitol Hill as an intern under Sen. John Sherman Cooper, later as an assistant to Sen. Marlow Cook, and was a Deputy Assistant Attorney General under President Gerald R. Ford Jr.. From 1978 to his election into the Senate in 1984, he was the County Judge-Executive of Jefferson County, Kentucky, which includes Louisville.
McConnell faced a tough reelection contest against former Louisville mayor Harvey I. Sloane in 1990, winning by 4.5 points. He had a slightly easier time in 1996 even as Bill Clinton narrowly carried the state. In 2002, he was reelected with the largest majority by a Republican candidate in Kentucky history. On November 12 of that year, McConnell was unanimously elected as Majority Whip of the Senate.
In 2006, following the November elections in which Republicans lost control of the Senate, McConnell was unanimously selected by the Senate Republican caucus to be minority leader for the 110th Congress. He took over the position of top Republican from Sen. Bill Frist (Tenn.), who retired at the end of the 109th Congress. 
McConnell has a solidly conservative voting record in the Senate, and is widely considered a "kingmaker" in Kentucky Republican politics.
Money in politics
This section contains links to – and feeds from – money in politics databases. <crpcontribdata>cid=N00003389&cycle=2006</crpcontribdata>
|Links to more campaign contribution information for Mitch McConnell
from the Center for Responsive Politics' OpenSecrets.org site.
|Fundraising profile:||2006 election cycle||Career totals|
|Top contributors by organization/corporation:||2006 election cycle||Career totals|
|Top contributors by industry:||2006 election cycle||Career totals|
- Revolving door profile for Mitch McConnell from the Center for Responsive Politics' OpenSecrets.org website.
- 2006 privately funded travel profile for Mitch McConnell from the Center for Responsive Politics' OpenSecrets.org website.
- Personal finance profile for Mitch McConnell from the Center for Responsive Politics' OpenSecrets.org website.
Oil and coal money in politics
Mitch McConnell received $305,600 in oil contributions during the 110th congress. $147,000 of those dollars were from industry PACs. In total, McConnell accepted $474,658 from oil companies from 2000 to 2008, making him a leading recipient of oil money. In addition to oil, McConnell has received $187,350 in coal contributions during the 110th congress. $78,250 of those dollars were from industry PACs. See above for oil and energy voting record.
Committees and affiliations
- Jefferson Awards Board Member, American Institute for Public Service
- Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry
- Subcommittee on Nutrition and Food Assistance, Sustainable and Organic Agriculture, and General Legislation
- Subcommittee on Domestic & Foreign Marketing, Inspection, & Plant & Animal Health
- Subcommittee on Rural Revitalization, Conservation, Forestry and Credit
- Senate Committee on Rules and Administration
- Senate Committee on Appropriations
- Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, and Related Agencies
- Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, and Science
- Subcommittee on Defense
- Subcommittee on Energy and Water
- Subcommittee on Military Contruction and Veterans Affairs
- Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs
Committee assignments in the 109th Congress (2005-2006)
- Senate Committee on Appropriations
- Senate Subcommittee on Foreign Operations Appropriations (Chairman)
- Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry
- Senate Committee on Rules and Administration
- Chair, National Republican Senatorial Committee during the 1998 and 2000 election cycles.
More background data
District Office- Bowling Green:
241 East Main Street, Room 102
Bowling Green, KY 42101
District Office- Fort Wright:
1885 Dixie Highway, Suite 345
Fort Wright, KY 41011
District Office- Lexington:
771 Corporate Drive, Suite 108
Lexington, KY 40503
District Office- London:
300 South Main Street, Suite 310
London, KY 40741
District Office- Louisville:
601 West Broadway, Suite 630
Louisville, KY 40202
Articles and resources
- Official website
- Senate Biography
- Profile, Political Graveyard
- Mitch McConnell On the Issues (2000)
- Addison Mitchell "Mitch" McConnell (1942- ) papers, Special Collections, University Libraries, University of Louisville
- Mitch McConnell, Government Information Awareness.
- Mitch McConnell, mentata.com.
- InBoxRobot: Mitch McConnell. Daily Newsletter.
- Numbers Profile: Sen. Mitch McConnell, NumbersUSA. Last updated November 17, 2003.
- Technorati Search: Mitch McConnell
- Google News Search: Mitch McConnell
- Yahoo! News Search: Mitch McConnell
- Power Trips: How much did Mitch McConnell travel?
- GovTrack Statistics: Mitch McConnell
- See how you compare to Mitch McConnell
Related SourceWatch articles
Local blogs and discussion sites
Articles by Mitch McConnell
- Mitch McConnell, "The Money Gag," (first appeared in National Review, June 30, 1997, pp. 36-38; © by National Review, Inc.).
Articles about Mitch McConnell
- Rich Lowry, "Louisville Slugger," The National Review, September 29, 1997.
- Michelle Cottle, "Mitch McConnell and Campaign Finance Violations in Kentucky," Washington Monthly, October 1997.
- Chris Suellentrop, "Mitch McConnell: The First Amendment's Reluctant Defender," Slate, March 29, 2002.
- Angie Cannon, "The Darth Vader of Reform," U.S. News and World Report, May 19, 2003.
- "McConnell Pushes Bill to Block Obesity Lawsuits of Junk Food Sellers; Rakes in Money from Food, Beverage, and Tobacco Interests," BBC, July 18, 2003.
- Jonathan Allen, "McConnell gets ready to step into Frist's shoes," The Hill, October 18, 2005.
- Jeff Dufour, "McConnell's 'Men of the Wheel'," The Hill, November 30, 2005.
- Carl Limbacher and NewsMax.com Staff, "McConnell: NY Times Endangering National Security," NewsMax, January 1, 2006.
- Michael Collins, "A Good Helping of Pork," Cincinnati Post, April 8, 2006.
- "Senate Majority Leader Frist & McCain Side With Democrats On Passage Of Illegal Immigration Amnesty Bill," PipeLineNews.org, May 25, 2006.
- Daphne Retter, "Senate Leadership Races Quietly Under Way," CQPolitics.com, June 21, 2006.
- Tom Curry, "Why Senate Iraq votes matter for '06 and '08. Issue will play decisive role in Rhode Island, Ohio, Connecticut races," MSNBC, June 22, 2006.
- John Aravosis, "GOP Senator McConnell flip-flops on amnesty for Iraqis who kill US troops, Republican divide over issue grows," AMERICAblog, June 25, 2006.
- Ed O'Keefe, "Bipartisan Senators Oppose Insurgent Amnesty," ABC News, June 25, 2006.
- "Flag-Burning Amendment Unites Sen. Leaders," Associated Press (Washington Post), June 25, 2006.
- Daphne Retter, [http://www.cqpolitics.com/2006/11/sen_lott_returns_to_gop_leader.html "Sen. Lott Returns to GOP Leadership with One-Vote Victory," CQPolitics, November 15, 2006.
- Elana Schor, “Reid, McConnell Clash Over 9/11 Bill” ' 'The Hill' ', March 2, 2007.
- "Senate GOP leader says he'll fight Iraq pullout bill," Associated Press (delivered by CNN), March 27, 2007.
- GOP Hypocrite of the Week: Mitch McConnell, BuzzFlash, April 6, 2007.
- Nicole Belle, "Mitch McConnell: Democrats Want The Troops Dead," Crooks and Liars, April 8, 2007.
- "Thank You Sen. McConnell," Vets for Freedom, accessed August 10, 2007; ad thanks McConnell for his support of the war in Iraq.
- Joe Sudbay, "Louisville Kentucky Take A Stand participants march to Mitch McConnell's house," AMERICAblog, August 28, 2007.
- "Media Campaign Goes After Four GOP Senators for Their Iraq Support," AlterNet, September 7, 2007.
- "CREW releases 'Beyond DeLay: The 22 Most Corrupt Members of Congress (and two to watch)'," Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, September 18, 2007.
- John Aravosis, "GOP Senate leader McConnell hurting in polls in KY over support for Bush and war," AMERICAblog, September 18, 2007.
- "MoveOn Launches New 'Betrayal' Ad," U.S. News & World Report, September 21, 2007. re MoveOn
- Faiz Shakir, "Was A McConnell Staffer Behind The Campaign To Smear The 12-Yr Old SCHIP Recipient?" Think Progress, October 10, 2007.
- Faiz Shakir, "EXCLUSIVE: E-mail Reveals That McConnell Staffer Propagated Smear Campaign Against Graeme Frost," Think Progress, October 11, 2007.
- Senator Mitch McConnell & National Republican Senatorial Committee Raise Nearly $11 Million In Soft Money In 1997, Common Cause, February 25, 1998.
- MITCH McCONNELL: "Take Away Soft Money and the GOP Would Be in the Minority." How Public Policy is Affected by Big Money, TomPaine.
- "Jim Lehrer Talks With McConnell About McCain-Feingold," Newshour, April 2, 2001.
- "Testimony Before House Administration Committee on McCain-Feingold," May 3, 2001.
- Ken Wohlrob, Government Trading Cards #41: Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Nickname: "The Darth Vader of Campaign Reform", BullyMagazine, March 28, 2002.
- "Kentucky Paper Will Return Funding for McConnell Probe," Editor & Publisher, October 14, 2006.
- James Rosen, "Articles on McConnell stir debate. SENATOR OBJECTS TO OUTSIDE FUNDING OF HERALD-LEADER SERIES," Lexington Herald-Leader, October 14, 2006.
- John Cheves, "Price Tag Politics. Senator's pet issue: money and the power it buys," Lexington Herald-Leader, October 15, 2006: "A six-month examination of McConnell's career, based on thousands of documents and scores of interviews, shows the nexus between his actions and his donors' agendas. He pushes the government to help cigarette makers, Las Vegas casinos, the pharmaceutical industry, credit card lenders, coal mine owners and others."
- John Cheves, "Good medicine for drug firms," Lexington Herald-Leader, October 15, 2006.
- "The money funnels" and "McConnell by the numbers," Lexington Herald-Leader, October 15, 2006.
- John Cheves, "Foreign aid wins friends. Senator's generosity rewarded," Lexington Herald-Leader, October 18, 2006.
- John Cheves, "Two for the money. When McConnell's pull fails, his Labor secretary wife fills in," Lexington Herald-Leader, October 20, 2006.
- John Cheves, "A lucrative connection. Lobbyist's close ties to senator pay off for them both -- and clients" and "Bates' ride from driver to gatekeeper," Lexington Herald-Leader, October 22, 2006.
|Current Office: U.S. Senate|
Ranking Member On:
Ranking Member On:
|Committees: Senate Committee on Agriculture Nutrition and Forestry, Senate Committee on Agriculture Nutrition and Forestry/Subcommittee on Domestic and Foreign Marketing Inspection and Plant and Animal Health, Senate Committee on Agriculture Nutrition and Forestry/Subcommittee on Nutrition and Food Assistance Sustainable and Organic Agriculture and General Legislation, Senate Committee on Agriculture Nutrition and Forestry/Subcommittee on Rural Revitalization Conservation Forestry and Credit, Senate Committee on Appropriations, Senate Committee on Appropriations/Subcommittee on Agriculture Rural Development Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies, Senate Committee on Appropriations/Subcommittee on Commerce Justice and Science and Related Agencies, Senate Committee on Appropriations/Subcommittee on Defense, Senate Committee on Appropriations/Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, Senate Committee on Appropriations/Subcommittee on State Foreign Operations and Related Programs, Senate Committee on Appropriations/Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies, Senate Committee on Rules and Administration|
|First Elected to Current Office:
November 6, 1984
|First Took Current Office:
January 3, 1985
November 4, 2014
|Previous Political Work?
Jefferson County Judge/Executive, 1978-85
|Other Party Membership:|
|Zip Code Affiliations:|
Date of Birth: February 20, 1942