Senate races

Report: Dem confirms liberal group recorded McConnell meeting

A Kentucky Democrat has confirmed Sen. Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) accusations that Democratic group Progress Kentucky was behind the leaked tapes of McConnell’s conversations with aides. The incident is currently under investigation by the FBI.

Jacob Conway, a member of the Jefferson County Democratic Party executive committee, told local news site WFPL that Shawn Reilly and Curtis Morrison, the founders and leaders of Progress Kentucky, bragged about the recording to him.

{mosads}“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,” Conway said. “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.”

The recording occurred the day McConnell opened his campaign headquarters in Louisville, Ky. The meeting was behind a closed and locked door, and the recording happened without the knowledge of the participants, according to McConnell campaign manager Jesse Benton. According to Conway, Reilly and Morrison overheard the conversation and recorded it from the hallway outside the meeting room.

Released to Mother Jones earlier this week, the recording revealed McConnell staffers discussing potential lines of attack against actress Ashley Judd, who was then considering running against McConnell for the Senate, and Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes.

The staffer leading the discussion cited Judd’s mental health problems and her views on religion as potential liabilities for the then-prospective candidate. Judd has since decided against a run.

McConnell suggested after the tapes were released that they were the work of Progress Kentucky, which had previously clashed with the McConnell campaign after the group issued a racially charged tweet involving McConnell’s wife, former Geroge W. Bush’s Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao, who is of Taiwanese descent.

“As I indicated, last month they were attacking my wife’s ethnicity, and apparently also bugging my headquarters, much like Nixon and Watergate,” McConnell said to reporters on Tuesday.

“That’s what the political left does these days,” he said.

The FBI is investigating the recording. Benton said on Wednesday that they had visited the campaign office and were working on some “good leads.”

Benton on Thursday called the report “disturbing.”

“WFPL’s reports that left-wing activists illegally recorded a private meeting inside our campaign headquarters are very disturbing. At this point, we understand that the FBI is immersed in an intensive criminal investigation and must defer any further comment to them,” he said.

According to Kentucky statute, if Conway’s allegations prove true, Reilly and Morrison could be charged with a class A misdemeanor for eavesdropping which, under Kentucky law, is punishable by no more than 12 months in jail.

Conway told Fox News that he revealed what he knew about Progress Kentucky to “protect the Democratic Party,” as he was concerned the party would be tied to the recordings.

Progress Kentucky did not respond to a request for comment.

Updated at 2:48 p.m.

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