Wednesday, November 11, 2009

David and Betty Jones Give $1 Million to McConnell-Chao Archives

Philanthropist and Humana co-founder David A. Jones stunned a University of Louisville audience today when he presented a $1 million check to the Mitch McConnell and Elaine Chao Archives at its ribbon-cutting.

Jones said the donation from him and his wife Betty was unsolicited. He praised the McConnell Center's development of leaders for U of L and Kentucky. He singled out Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell's dedication to many"issues big and small" -- for example, to conservation and parks, as well as McConnell's aid when the Jones's son was injured in the first Iraq war.

Jones also took an opportunity to praise McConnell for his relentless defense of the first amendment. McConnell has defended the first amendment's application even to unpopular speech, including the right to burn the U.S. flag, and the right for corporations to engage in political speech.

The first amendment, Jones said, is central to our survival as a country, and that includes the free speech rights of corporations.

Jones's comment seemed aimed at the Obama administration's gag order of Humana, imposed after Humana notified its subscribers of the potential impact of proposed health care legislation. McConnell vigorously criticized the Obama administration for censoring Humana and other insurance companies.

Likewise, Jones's remark could be an implicit criticism of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law, which hinders corporations from engaging in political speech. That bill's sponsor, Sen. John McCain, was the guest of honor of today's dedication of the archives. McConnell and the ACLU sued to have McCain-Feingold declared unconstitutional; McConnell lost and the law was upheld. McCain and McConnell both noted that their mutual respect and friendship transcends their differences of opinion on some matters of public policy.

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