Progress Kentucky, the liberal PAC behind the racist ad directed against Mitch McConnell's Chinese-American wife, may have been behind the bugging of a strategy meeting at his campaign headquarters.
A secret recording of a campaign strategy session between U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell and his advisors was taped by leaders of the Progress Kentucky super PAC, says a longtime local Democratic operative.
Mother Jones Magazine released the tape this week. The meeting itself took place on Feb. 2.
Jacob Conway, who is on the executive committee of the Jefferson County Democratic Party, says that day, Shawn Reilly and Curtis Morrison, who founded and volunteered for Progress Kentucky, respectively, bragged to him about how they recorded the meeting.
On the tape, McConnell and his advisors are heard laughing and joking about opposition research they had on actress Ashley Judd, who had been considering running against McConnell next year. Many Democratic groups blasted McConnell for the remarks yesterday, disgusted by the fact McConnell would potentially use Judd's suicidal thoughts as a child against her.
Reilly and Morrison have declined to comment for this story.
On Feb. 2, McConnell opened his campaign headquarters in the Watterson Office Park in Louisville and invited trusted GOP activists and select media outlets to an open house. The event lasted roughly two hours. Afterward, McConnell and several campaign advisors held a strategy session in an office meeting room.
Morrison and Reilly did not attend the open house, but they told Conway they arrived later and were able to hear the meeting from the hallway.
"They were in the hallway after the, I guess after the celebration and hoopla ended, apparently these people broke for lunch and had a strategy meeting, which is, in every campaign I've been affiliated with, makes perfect sense," says Conway. "One of them held the elevator, the other one did the recording and they left. That was what they told to me from them directly."
Here's the problem for the activists; even if the conversation could be heard through the door without any electronic aid, they are still probably toast. The article points out that Kentucky law says it is a felony "to overhear, record amplify or transmit any part of a wire or oral communication of others without the consent of at least one party thereto by means of any electric, mechanical or other device." Professor Jacobsen points out that the "means of recording" will probably determine their fate.
As for Mother Jones, Jacobsen says that it will depend on what the magazine knew and when they knew it. It seems reasonably certain from the story as it stands now that editor David Corn can't be charged with anything - unless he was in on the scheme to record the meeting. But the way the incident is described, the two activists got lucky (by their lights) and stumbled on the meeting accidentally.
It's amazing how little coverage this story is getting.