Rep. Mike Kelly criticized by Democratic Nouri for taking solar grant –

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The Democratic nominee running against U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly is urging Kelly’s family-owned car dealership group to return a $314,000 federal grant funded by legislation that the seven-term congressman vehemently opposed.

Fairview native Preston Nouri on Wednesday accused Kelly of having “a record of personally profiting from taxpayer dollars” after the Erie Times-News reported that Kelly’s family-owned car dealership, the Mike Kelly Automotive Group, received the U.S. Department of Agriculture funding to install solar panels at a dealership in Uniontown, Pennsylvania.

“Mike Kelly shows his true colors once again,” Nouri said in a statement. “For over 13 years, he keeps getting caught with his hand in the cookie jar, taking taxpayer money to enrich himself while working against the interests of the people he’s supposed to represent.”

What was the grant Rep. Kelly’s business received?

The Rural Energy for America Program was first authorized under the 2018 farm bill and reauthorized under President Joe Biden’s $740 billion Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, which Kelly opposed, saying the bill was “loaded with bad policy and wasteful spending,” which included $357 billion to address climate change, he said in a statement at the time of the bill’s passage.

Preston Nouri, 25, of Erie, announces his bid for the Democratic nomination for the 16th Congressional District seat at the United Steelworkers Local 3199 office on Thursday, Oct. 19, 2023. The seat is currently held by Republican Rep. Mike Kelly of Butler. Kelly is seeking an eighth term in 2024.

Nouri said Kelly should return the grant money to the federal government immediately.

“If he truly cares about taxpayers and saving money for our nation, the first thing he should do is to pay back the federal government the $315,000 immediately,” Nouri said.

Kelly isn’t involved ‘day-to-day’ with dealership, spokesman says

Kelly’s spokesman Matthew Knoedler said in response to the Erie Times-News story that “Representative Kelly’s energy policy has always supported on an all-of-the-above approach. Additionally, Rep. Kelly does not have an active role in the day-to-day operations of his family’s business.”

U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, of Butler, R-16th Dist., holds a press conference at Erie County Republican Party Headquarters in Millcreek Township on July 22, 2022.

Both Kelly’s congressional office and re-election campaign declined to comment on Nouri’s remarks.

Matthew Rink can be reached at [email protected] or on X at @ETNRink.

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