Anti-McConnell group apologizes for tweet directed at senator's wife

A liberal super-PAC that drew the ire of Republicans and Democrats alike for tweets targeting Sen. Mitch McConnell's (R-Ky.) wife has apologized for what it called an "unnecessary comment."

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"We apologize to the secretary for that unnecessary comment and have deleted the tweets in question. In addition, we have put a review process in place to ensure tweets and other social media communications from Progress KY are reviewed and approved prior to posting," said Progress Kentucky Executive Director Shawn Reilly in an email issued late Tuesday night.

The group had tweeted earlier this month, in reference to McConnell's wife, former Labor Secretary Elaine Chao,
"This woman has the ear of @McConnellPress -- she's his #wife. May explain why your job moved to #China!"

The tweet linked to a webpage run by radio host Jeff Rense. The page says that Chao, who was born in Taiwan, discriminated against U.S. workers while she served as Labor secretary in former President George W. Bush's administration.

It drew the ire of both the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) and its Democratic counterpart, with NRSC Communications Director Brad Dayspring calling the tweet "disgusting" and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee national Press Secretary Justin Barasky calling the comments "completely out of line."

McConnell's campaign manager, Jesse Benton, said that the group "should be ashamed of themselves" and accused Progress Kentucky of using "blatant race-baiting for political gain."

Reilly said in the email sent to reporters late Tuesday night that the tweet was part of an effort to share information with voters about McConnell's record.

"In an effort to educate KY voters as to the varied interests of Sen. McConnell we provided information about connections between the senator and business and government interests in China. This information included an inappropriate comment on the ethnicity of the former Secretary of Labor, Elaine Chao, the senator’s wife," he said.

"We will continue to inform Kentucky voters the important issues at stake in this election," he added.

Progress Kentucky has been moderately active in the Kentucky race, organizing protests at McConnell's home and issuing a report with other Democratic groups on his campaign donations. But unlike a number of better-funded progressive groups, the PAC has not yet launched any air attacks on the senator.

According to its donation page on ActBlue, a Democratic fundraising site, the group has only received about $4,000 from donations through the site. The group did not file an end-of-year fundraising report, and received a notice from the Federal Election Commission warning of a potential audit or monetary penalties in case of a failure to file.