The opinion editors back home in Kentucky are not really thrilled with the idea of the Russians getting an economic hold on the state. Not just the Russians, but the Russian mob. At the Louisville Courier Journal, Joseph Gerth is not too excited at the prospect that “by the middle of the year, we’ll be in business with Oleg Deripaska, a buddy of Vladimir Putin.” Kentucky is looking for $200 million from the Russian to invest in a $1.7 billion aluminum plant there. He goes on to describe Deripaska’s “deep ties to Russian organized crime,” and the allegations of Deripaska’s violent, ruthless, criminal past in Russia.
Gerth’s angle is Republican Gov. Matt Bevin’s support for this project—the state has already spent $15 million in the Braidy Industries aluminum plant, and how important getting this big project going for Bevin’s re-election, as “there has been an air of suspicion surrounding the Braidy project as it has dragged on.” It took the intervention of two other powerful Kentucky politicians to make it happen—Sens. Rand Paul and, most importantly, Mitch McConnell. Those two were among the three votes in the Senate that helped Donald Trump lift sanctions against Rusal, the aluminum company that will invest in the state which is partially owned by Deripaska. Or, as far as we know, “officially” partially owned. Things are fluid in Russian corporate structure.
And you all remember Deripaska—he’s good buddies and a former employer of Donald Trump’s first campaign manager, Paul Manafort. The Trump/Manafort/Russia and specifically Deripaska (friend of Putin!) connection is deep and complicated and at the heart of the NO COLLUSION collusion that helped land Trump in the White House.
Once again, all of this brings up one key question: how deep into Russia is McConnell? What does he owe Putin? He helped Russia get Trump into the White House by refusing to let the American government notify the public about and help states arm against Russian incursion in the 2016 election. Now he’s looking to Russia to help his own re-election prospects and stranglehold on the Senate, with a big assist from Bevin and Paul.
Something is really rotten in the state of Kentucky.