Conway, Paul Fight Over Cap and Trade, Tax Group

Conway, Paul Fight Over Cap and Trade, Tax Group

By Erin McPike - October 15, 2010

The National Republican Senatorial Committee returned to the airwaves in Kentucky last week, and today, the committee launched another new TV spot as Democrat Jack Conway turns up the heat on Republican Rand Paul with questions about his involvement with a tax advocacy group.

Last month, the NRSC went off the air in the Bluegrass State because the committee felt comfortable about Paul's lead over Conway. According to the RealClearPolitics polling average, Paul is still ahead of Conway, but by 5.3 percentage points, making the race among the half-dozen most competitive Senate races in the country.

The new spot features a clip of President Obama on the campaign trail in 2008 saying that under his cap-and-trade plan, "electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket." It also includes Obama noting that "if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can. It's just that it will bankrupt them." The ad claims that Conway supported the plan in 2009.

Conway spokesman John Collins disputed the NRSC's ad claims, noting, "Attorney General Jack Conway supports Kentucky coal and opposes cap-and-trade. He even sued the EPA when they overstepped their authority and tried to hurt Kentucky coal. But let's be clear - Rand Paul believes Kentucky miners don't deserve federal mine safety protections and would erase the laws written in the blood of dead miners."

Most of Kentucky's energy comes from the state's massive coal industry, and cap-and-trade is more unpopular there than it is in many other states and has become a top issue for Kentuckians this election cycle. The ad notes that Obama's plan, which has only passed the House of Representatives and stalled in the Senate, would cut about 35,000 jobs from the state.

As Collins noted, Conway denies support for cap-and-trade but does not include his position on energy policy in the issues section of his Web site. He does, however, have a page devoted to mine safety, which reminds voters about Paul's commentary on a radio show this summer suggesting that accidents happen and that mine regulations should be left up to the state, rather than the federal government.

For his part, Conway hit Paul today over new revelations in the Wall Street Journal on Thursday that Paul's anti-tax group, the Kentucky Taxpayers United, was dissolved by the state government. Conway held a conference call today questioning Paul over "illegalities" that could have sprung from his actions with the group.

Conway raised questions about the financial status of Paul's tax advocacy group and whether he used funds illegally. And a new video the campaign is circulating blasts Paul for saying over the last 10 years that he's been part of the group when it was reported as closed in 2000.

Erin McPike is a national political reporter for RealClearPolitics. She can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @ErinMcPike.

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