Kudos  to the left-leaning Talking Points Memo for calling out ProgressKentucky, the left-wing group attacking Senator Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader. The news website pulls no punches with a story titled: “Kentucky Progressive Group Tweets Racist Conspiracy About Mitch McConnell’s Wife.”

McConnell is married to Elaine Chao, the former secretary of labor under the Bush administration and currently a scholar at the conservative Heritage Foundation. She was born in Taiwan. A long-standing conspiracy theory on the far left and far right holds that she is some type of secret agent for China. ProgressKentucky has been trying to revive it.

From the TPM story:

ProgressKentucky is a progressive group that first made headlines by announcing its intention tofund a tea party candidate to run against Sen. Mitch McConnell (R) in the 2014 primary. On Tuesday, the group’s leadership tried to defend itself after a series of tweets this month referencing the ethnicity of McConnell’s wife, former Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, and her father’s business ties to China.


The tweets in question:

This woman has the ear of @mcconnellpress — she’s his #wife.May explain why your job moved to #Chinarense.com/general77/raci…

— Progress Kentucky (@ProgressKy) February 14, 2013

.@mcconnellpressMitch and his $$$ have VERY strong ties to #China(that place your job moved to). dailykos.com/story/2010/12/…

— Progress Kentucky (@ProgressKy) February 26, 2013

I think you’d have to go to NY NJ TX & China to find the people#MitchMcConnell represents! @mcconnellpress

— Progress Kentucky (@ProgressKy) February 25, 2013

Is #MitchMcConnell too close to China?Dissident Wu ‘very surprised’ at Chao pick po.st/v4q0i7 via @worldnetdaily

— Progress Kentucky (@ProgressKy) February 26, 2013

China Premier grateful to McConnell father-in-law/@kygop contributor-4 his role in developing China industry ow.ly/i2Qjv #kyga13

— Progress Kentucky (@ProgressKy) February 26, 2013

Curtis Morrison, a spokesperson for the group, told WFPL the tweets were not a big deal.

“It’s not an official statement. It’s a Tweet. And we will remove it if it’s wrong,” he told the station. “I follow Ashley Judd on Twitter and she removed a Tweet the other day, she Tweeted to you Phillip. People make mistakes in Tweets. It happens. Inferring that Elaine Chao is not a U.S. citizen was not our intention.” (Judd is widely thought to be considering a run against McConnell in the 2014 general election.)

Morrison told the station ProgressKY “was trying to show how Chinese interests influence McConnell’s decision-making, but admits the super PAC may have crossed a line and offended Asian-Americans residents.”

Republicans say the tweets are a very big deal. Jesse Benton, a spokesperson for McConnell’s campaign, told WFPL the tweets amounted to “race-baiting” and said ProgressKY “should really be ashamed.”