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Monday, April 15, 2024

Did ‘Old Crow’ McConnell Violate Ethics Rules by Endorsing Bourbon Company?

'It’s my favorite bourbon...'

(Ben Sellers, Headline USA) Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell gamefully parried back over a nickname bestowed upon him by former President Donald Trump, “Old Crow.”

The two Republican leaders have been at odds since the waning days of Trump’s administration over McConnell’s lack of support for election-fraud challenges and other perceived political betrayals.

Most recently they clashed after McConnell spoke out against the censure of RINO Reps. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois.

Trump—who became known for his creative nicknames during the 2016 campaign, most famously dubbing his top political rivals “Crooked Hillary” and “Sleepy Joe”—first publicly rolled out his McConnell monicker in July of last year.

Since then, he has referred to McConnell as “Old Crow” at least a dozen times in statements.

But in a Tuesday interview with the Washington Examiner, McConnell said he was embracing the label, while throwing in a plug for one of his home state’s historic exports.

“It’s my favorite bourbon,” he said, turning to a staffer beside him. “Aren’t we using Old Crow as my moniker now? It was Henry Clay’s favorite bourbon.”

Clay, like McConnell, was a prominent Kentucky senator, known as the “Great Compromiser.” In the 19th century, he helped found the National Republican Party in opposition to another brash, populist president: Andrew Jackson.

Most are likely to see in McConnell’s quip an artful deflection as the most powerful Republican currently in office tries to prevent Trump from dominating the GOP spotlight and undermining its messaging.

Whiskey connoiseurs, on the other hand, may question McConnell’s taste.

The Old Crow brand, distilled by the same company that produces Jim Beam, uses the same ingredients as it does in its signature brand but ages Old Crow for a shorter period of time, making it a cheap alternative described in industry parlance as “bottom shelf.”

Still, others might wonder if McConnell’s endorsement ran a-fowl (pun intended) of the Senate’s ethics rules.

A similar case arose after left-wing activists attempted a boycott of Goya food products due to its support of Trump.

In a social media post, Trump’s daughter Ivanka, a senior White House adviser, appeared holding up a can of Goya black beans and expressed her solidarity.

Triggered leftists called for an investigation, citing Title 5 of the Code of Federal Regulations, which prohibits administrative personnel in the executive branch from “the endorsement of any product, service or enterprise, or for the private gain of friends, relatives, or persons with whom the employee is affiliated in a nongovernmental capacity.”

A Headline USA review of the pertinent Senate rules governing conflicts of interest was unable to identify any similar statute that would prohibit McConnell from product endorsement.

But he has faced scrutiny over his personal financial affairs, including allegations that his policies may have benefited Foremost Maritime Corporation, the shipping company owned by the family of his wife, former Trump Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.

At any rate, McConnell’s preference for the low-grade corporate-produced bourbon is not likely to win him any endorsements from the state’s other hundred or so distilleries.

Headline USA reached out via email to Old Crow maker Beam Suntory and to Brown-Forman (maker of Woodford Reserve) for comment. We will update with any response.

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