(FOX19) - The conservatives within the Republican Party are taking aim at Mitch McConnell, and they've come up with a catchy one-liner, but is the Tea Party right to accuse the Senate Minority Leader of helping himself to a "Kentucky Kickback?"
Tucked into the McConnell/Reid bill that re-opened the government last week and left Obamacare the law of the land is nearly two billion dollars in taxpayer money earmarked for the 'Olmstead Locks and Dam Project,' a major waterway upgrade designed to improve commerce along the Ohio river.
In a new campaign ad, Tea Party candidate Matt Bevin accuses McConnell of helping himself rather than his party saying:
"This government shutdown was completely avoidable if we had real leadership in Washington. But instead we have career politicians like Mitch McConnell and Harry Reid who make decisions on what is politically expedient for them and not in the best interest of the American people."
The Senate Conservatives Fund, which now publicly supports Bevin, has been even more vocal, accusing McConnell of creating his own personal Obamacare earmark.
However, on the night the bill was signed into law, McConnell didn't sound like someone who supports Obamacare saying:
"Throughout this debate the public is rightly focused on Obamacare for good reason..this law is ravaging our economy, killing jobs, driving up premiums, and driving people off the healthcare plans they have and like in droves."
If he did betray the GOP in exchange for a pet project, McConnell got some pretty influential names to back his play including democratic senator Dianne Feinstein along with confessed Obamacare hater and fellow republican Senator Lamar Alexander. Both sit on the Senate Appropriations Committee and both maintain that they were the ones who included Olmstead in the bill to save tens of millions of dollars already committed to a project the government first gave the green light to back in early the 90's.
After our Reality Check, the Senate Conservatives Fund released this statement: "Mitch McConnell keeps trying to blame others for the Kentucky Kickback, but he negotiated the debt deal and he approved the provision. Mitch McConnell has requested millions of dollars for this project over the years and now he wants people to believe he had nothing to do with it. People aren't stupid. They know what happened here. It was a selfish abuse of power and Mitch McConnell should admit it was a mistake."
Meanwhile, McConnell's office has issued the following statement to FOX19:
"The Army Corps requested it, both House and Senate passed an authorization for it, and every Senator had a chance to review it and none asked for it to be taken out -- and in fact other provisions were removed by senators. The Appropriations Committee points out that this authorization saves $160 million for taxpayers. It's rare that we're able to save money in a spending bill."