Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 7, 2016

Kentucky: McConnell Campaign Notified FBI About Secret Recording

McConnell will seek re-election. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 11:15 a.m. | Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s, R-Ky., re-election campaign says they are working with the FBI to take action against a secret recording taken at the campaign headquarters and published in Mother Jones on Tuesday.

The recording revealed a campaign strategy session during which McConnell and his campaign aides plotted to run against potential opponents — including actress and activist Ashley Judd, who decided against a bid last month.

“Senator McConnell’s campaign is working with the FBI and has notified the local U.S. Attorney in Louisville, per FBI request, about these recordings,” McConnell campaign manager Jesse Benton said in a statement. “Obviously a recording device of some kind was placed in Senator McConnell’s campaign office without consent. By whom and how that was accomplished will presumably be the subject of a criminal investigation.”

Updated 11:15 a.m.

“We’ve always said the Left would stop at nothing to attack Sen. McConnell, but Watergate-style tactics to bug campaign headquarters are above and beyond,” Benton added.

(See also in Roll Call: Goodbye, Ashley Judd? Why McConnell Might Be More Worried)

According to the liberal magazine’s report, the recording was taken on Feb. 2, the day McConnell opened his re-election headquarters in Louisville. After speaking with supporters, McConnell and aides met privately to discuss the campaign.

McConnell and campaign aides can be heard discussing opposition research uncovered about Judd, including her past struggles with depression and her alleged criticism of Christianity. They cited her autobiography and played a couple of recordings of her discussing both issues publicly.

McConnell referred to the early months of the campaign as the “Whac-a-Mole period,” when the campaign would attempt to keep out any potential opponents.

Last month, Judd decided against challenging McConnell. That leaves Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes as the most likely Democratic candidate to take him on.

(See also in Roll Call: In Kentucky, All Eyes on Grimes to Face McConnell)

Grimes was mentioned in the Feb. 2 session as well, but an aide said the “best hit we have on her is her blatantly endorsing the 2008 Democratic national platform,” Mother Jones reported.

  • stsheetrock

    During polling for
    both 2008 & 2012 Ron Paul campaigns. I always distrusted Jesse Benton but I
    kept to myself. Now he’s digging Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s GRAVE
    big time as RE-ELECTION Campaign Manager. He leaked to Mother-Jones In recordings,
    political operatives huddling at senator’s campaign headquarters in Kentucky, discussing
    potential attack Judd’s mental health, as well as her left-leaning politics, if
    she had decided to make a bid against McConnell, who’s running for a sixth term
    in office next year.

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