Big Money Mitch, Credit Cards, and Banking

Amid a deepening financial crisis, Americans have seen Wall Street get a bailout while they continue to struggle financially with high mortgage payments and mounting credit card debt. Kentucky, as of the fourth quarter of 2007, had the seventh-highest bankruptcy rate in the nation and had seen the rate of personal bankruptcies rise 85.4 percent since the first quarter of 2006.[1]  As of August, mortgage foreclosures in the state were up 37 percent over a year prior.[2]

Despite the impact on Kentucky, Sen. Mitch McConnell has consistently used his clout to advance the credit card and banking industries’ interests in Congress by making it harder for Americans to get out of debt. As Senate Majority Whip, McConnell helped shepherd the Bankruptcy Abuse Protection and Consumer Protection Act through the Senate in 2005. Upon its passage, President Bush singled him out for praise.[3]

For McConnell’s fundraising, his relationship with the credit card and banking industries is nothing but rewarding. McConnell has received $868,000 from credit card and banking interests – a lucrative haul no doubt aided by his chief fundraiser, former banking lobbyist Alison Crombie Kinnahan. More than one-third of that amount has come in since March 2007 when his current campaign began in earnest.[4]  Americans and Kentucky families may be struggling to pay the bills, but due to his connections, McConnell simply can’t relate.

1. Amanda Logan and Christian E. Weller, “Bankruptcies Back On The Wrong Track,” Center for American Progress, June 2008, http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2008/06/pdf/bankruptcy.pdf.
2. RealtyTrac, “Foreclosure Activity Increases 12 Percent In August,” September 12, 2008,http://www.realtytrac.com/ContentManagement/pressrelease.aspx?ChannelID=....
3. Remarks of President George W. Bush, delivered April 20, 2005, Washington, DC,http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/04/20050420-5.html.
4. Campaign finance and lobbying figures are based on Campaign Money Watch analysis of data obtained from the Center for Responsive Politics, a non-partisan organization that tracks and codes campaign finance data by industry and tracks lobbying. Campaign finance data include individual contributions ($200+) and from Political Action Committees (PACs) to campaign committees and leadership PACs. Data for the 2008 cycle were downloaded in October 2008.