GOP candidate Don Blankenship rips Mitch McConnell's 'Chinaperson' family

Don Blankenship, a Republican U.S. Senate candidate in West Virginia, suggested that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) may have conflicts of interest in foreign relations because his father-in-law is a “wealthy Chinaperson.”

The coal baron, who recently served a year in prison for his role in a deadly mining explosion in 2010 that he refuses wrongdoing in, made the bizarre racial remark on a radio program on Monday. (Blankenship’s comments begin around the 1:06:05 mark.)

Blankenship, whose fiancée was reportedly born in China, began by saying he doesn’t have “any problem with China.”

“But I have an issue when the father-in-law is a wealthy Chinaperson and there’s a lot of connections to some of the brass, if you will, in China,” he said, targeting the father of McConnell’s wife, Elaine Chao, who is the U.S. Secretary of Transportation. Chao’s father, James Chao, was born in China but launched his shipping company, the Foremost Group, in New York.

Blankenship, Massey Energy’s former CEO, went on to criticize Elaine, accusing her of once being part of an “environmental extremist group” that he claims “damaged West Virginia and the permitting process for coal and energy.”

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Republican Senate candidate Don Blankenship
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Republican Senate candidate Don Blankenship
Former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship, Republican U.S. Senate candidate from West Virginia, pauses while speaking during a town hall campaign event in Huntington, West Virginia, U.S., on Thursday, Feb. 1, 2018. Blankenship has previously declared avid support for pro-coal President Donald Trump and signaled he was aligned with West Virginia's hard-working electorate. Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Former Massey Energy Chief Executive Don Blankenship (3rd L) and his attorney Bill Taylor (4th R) are met by media outside the Robert C. Byrd U.S. Courthouse in Charleston, West Virginia December 3, 2015. Blankenship was found guilty in federal court on Thursday of conspiring to violate safety standards at the Upper Big Branch mine, the site of a 2010 blast that killed 29 people. REUTERS/Chris Tilley
Former Massey Energy Chief Executive Don Blankenship is talking on his mobile phone as he walks into the Robert C. Byrd U.S. Courthouse in Charleston, West Virginia December 3, 2015. Blankenship was found guilty in federal court on Thursday of conspiring to violate safety standards at the Upper Big Branch mine, the site of a 2010 blast that killed 29 people. REUTERS/Chris Tilley
Don Blankenship, CEO of Massie Energy, talks with reporters near the Upper Big Branch Mine in Montcoal, West Virginia, April 6, 2010. Rescue crews moved giant drills to a West Virginia coal mine Tuesday in hopes of boring deep inside to find four miners missing after an explosion that killed at least 25 of their co-workers in the worst U.S. mine disaster in a quarter century. REUTERS/Mike Munden (UNITED STATES - Tags: DISASTER ENERGY BUSINESS)
MORGANTOWN, WV - MARCH 01: Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Don Blankenship speaks at a town hall meeting at West Virginia University on March 1, 2018 in Morgantown, West Virginia. Blankenship is the former chief executive of the Massey Energy Company where an explosion in the Upper Big Branch coal mine killed 29 men in 2010. Blankenship, a controversial candidate in central Appalachia coal country, served a one-year sentence for conspiracy to violate mine safety laws and has continued to blame the government for the accident despite investigators findings. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Donald 'Don' Blankenship, former chief executive officer of Massey Energy Co., smiles as he exits the Robert C. Byrd U.S. Courthouse in Charleston, West Virginia, U.S., on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2015. Blankenship, one of Appalachias last coal barons, was found guilty of plotting to speed up production by ignoring safety rules at a company mine that later blew up killing 29 workers. Photographer: Calvin Mattheis/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship, Republican U.S. Senate candidate from West Virginia, speaks during a town hall campaign event in Huntington, West Virginia, U.S., on Thursday, Feb. 1, 2018. Blankenship has previously declared avid support for pro-coal President Donald Trump and signaled he was aligned with West Virginia's hard-working electorate. Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Donald 'Don' Blankenship, former chief executive officer of Massey Energy Co., left, and one of his attorneys Alex Macia, arrive at the Robert C. Byrd U.S. Courthouse in Charleston, West Virginia, U.S., on Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2015. The jury ended an eighth day of deliberations without a verdict after a juror became ill. Prosecutors allege that he coal executive plotted to ignore safety rules before a 2010 mine explosion that killed 29. Photographer: Emily Harger/Bloomberg via Getty Images
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Elaine, until 2015, served on the Bloomberg Family Foundation’s board of directors. The foundation worked to help cities transition away from coal use and instead toward energy sources that limit carbon emissions.

Though Blankenship tried to throw scrutiny over McConnell’s extended family and his ties to China ― calling it “one small example” of conflicts of interest seen in Washington ― he has many ties of his own.

Blankenship’s fiancée is Farrah Meiling Hobbs, who was born in Beijing and moved to the U.S. in 1996 where she founded her second trading company, according to The New York Times, citing a website belonging to her.

In 2009, Blankenship also discussed with the Charleston Gazette-Mail his desire to move to Asia and seek dual citizenship in China. He also praised China’s government, saying: “Americans confuse the words communism and dictatorship.”

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Mitch McConnell and his wife, Elaine Chao
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Mitch McConnell and his wife, Elaine Chao
U.S. Senate Republican Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and his wife Elaine Chao arrive at Bellarmine University to cast their ballots during Kentucky's primary elections in Louisville, Kentucky, May 20, 2014. McConnell is running against Republican challenger Matt Bevin. REUTERS/John Sommers II (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS)
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) listens as his wife Elaine Chao testifies before a Senate Commerce Science and Transportation Committee confirmation hearing on her nomination to be transportation secretary on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., January 11, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
Britain's Prince Charles (2nd R) poses with U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and his wife, former U.S. Labor Secretary Elaine Chao (2nd L) at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, March 19, 2015. REUTERS/Mandel Ngan/Pool
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (L) shakes hands, after he ceremonially swore-in, with Vice President Joseph Biden (R) in the Old Senate Chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington January 6, 2015. Holding the Bible is McConnell's wife, former Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao. REUTERS/Larry Downing (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS)
U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) addresses supporters while accompanied by his wife, former United States Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao, at his midterm election night rally in Louisville, Kentucky, November 4, 2014. Television news networks are projecting that McConnell will win the election. REUTERS/John Sommers II (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS)
U.S. Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (L) and his wife Elaine Chao wait to cast their votes after marking their ballots at Bellarmine University in Louisville, Kentucky, November 4, 2014. McConnell is running against Democratic Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes. REUTERS/John Sommers II (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS)
On Tuesday, January 31, (r-l), Elaine Chao is sworn in as the Transportation Secretary, as her father James Chao holds the bible, and her husband Senator Mitch McConnell, bears witness, in the Vice Presidents Ceremonial Office in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building of the White House. (Photo by Cheriss May/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 31: Elaine Chao (3rd L) is sworn in by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence (R) as her father James Chao (2nd L) and her husband Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) (L) look on during a ceremony at the Vice President's ceremonial office at Eisenhower Executive Office Building January 31, 2017 in Washington, DC. Chao, a former U.S. labor secretary, was sworn in to become the Transportation Secretary for the Trump Administration. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JANUARY 12: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and his wife Elaine Chao, former Secretary of Labor, are pictured in the Capitol before President Obama's State of the Union address, January 12, 2016. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 19: Prince Charles, Prince of Wales (R) poses with Leader of the Senate Mitch McConnell and his wife Elaine Chao in the Capitol Building on the third day of a visit to the United States on March 19, 2015 in Washington, DC. The Prince and Duchess are in Washington as part of a Four day visit to the United States. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - JULY 17: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) (R), along with his wife Elaine Chao look on a day before the start of the start of the Republican National Convention on July 17, 2016 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. An estimated 50,000 people are expected in Cleveland, including hundreds of protesters and members of the media. The four-day Republican National Convention kicks off on July 18. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 27: Sec. of Labor Elaine Chao and Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-KY, answers questions during an interview in the Capitol Rotunda on President Bush's address to the Joint Session of Congress. (Photo By Tom Williams/Roll Call/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JANUARY 24: CHAO--Labor Secretary-designate Elaine Chao, right, listens to Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., left -- her husband -- introduce her during her confirmation hearing before Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions. (Photo by Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images)
FLORENCE, KY - OCTOBER 31: U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and his wife U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao greet supporters during a campaign stop on October 31, 2008 in Florence, Kentucky. McConnell is seeking re-election in a tight race with challenger former Kentucky Democratic Party treasurer Bruce Lunsford. (Photo by Mark Lyons/Getty Images)
LOUISVILLE, KY - NOVEMBER 4: U.S. Senate Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and his wife U. S. Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao greet supporters after learning he has defeated Democratic challenger former Kentucky Democratic Party treasurer Bruce Lunsford during an election night rally on November 4, 2008 at the Galt House Hotel, in Louisville, Kentucky. McConnell has been the Senate Minority Leader since 2006. (Photo by Mark Lyons/Getty Images)
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Despite these contradictions, Blankenship, who is an outspoken supporter of President Donald Trump, said on Monday that he’s read books that criticize McConnell as being “too soft on China.”

Though he added that U.S. senators need to be “more transparent” about their business ties, last week he reportedly told the Times that he believes nobody “should have to disclose private information.”

That statement came amid scrutiny over the Senate candidate listing a $2.6 million mansion outside Las Vegas as his primary residence in 2016. He has defended that it’s not uncommon for people in the coal industry to own homes in different states.

  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.
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