April 11th, 2013
03:52 PM ET
5 years ago

Kentucky Democratic official claims liberal group behind McConnell tape

(CNN) – An official with a local Democratic Party group alleged Thursday a Kentucky-based liberal organization was responsible for the secretly recorded tapes of Sen. Mitch McConnell plotting campaign strategy.

Jacob Conway, an executive committee member of the Louisville-Jefferson County Democratic Party, told CNN that members of Progress Kentucky admitted to him in February they made the recording. That's the same group behind offensive tweets posted last month targeting McConnell's wife.

"They told me about it pretty much the day or the day after it happened," Conway said of members of Progress Kentucky. "They were, for some reason, at McConnell's office after he had his grand opening that day, and they started hearing this salacious conversation."

"They apparently decided to record it," Conway continued. "One of them held the elevator and the other one recorded it."

In the recordings, which appeared Tuesday on the website of the liberal magazine Mother Jones, political operatives huddling at the senator's campaign headquarters in Kentucky are heard discussing potentially attacking Ashley Judd's mental health, as well as her left-leaning politics.

Judd decided against making a bid against McConnell in March.

Conway said one of the Progress Kentucky members told him about making the recording, which he then confirmed with the other member present at McConnell's office. When he read the Mother Jones article detailing the tapes, "I put two and two together," Conway said.

"They decided to record it because they thought it was something that needed to be heard," Conway explained, adding he thought the Progress Kentucky operatives were "good men" with "hearts in the right place."

"They're inexperienced. They're very dedicated," he said.

One of those men confirmed to CNN through his lawyer that he was at McConnell’s office after the public event, but said while he did witness his colleague making the recording, he had no direct involvement.

The lawyer said his client has been cooperating with the FBI.

On Tuesday, FBI spokesman Paul Bresson said the agency was "looking into the matter" of the secretly recorded tapes, and Conway told CNN after his interview that he was also talking to FBI agents.

Progress Kentucky did not return a call asking for comment.

Jesse Benton, McConnell's campaign manager, wrote in a statement Thursday that "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."

A controversy was ignited in February when Progress Kentucky drew a connection in a tweet between McConnell's wife Elaine Chao, who's Chinese-American, and the practice of outsourcing of jobs. Chao served as labor secretary under President George W. Bush.

"This woman has the ear of @McConnellPress – she's his #wife," read the February 14 tweet from the group, referring to McConnell by his official Twitter account. "May explain why your job moved to #China!"

After strong criticism from McConnell's campaign, Kentucky Progress apologized to the senator and his wife.

Filed under: Kentucky • Mitch McConnell
soundoff (61 Responses)
  1. B

    well well well. seem the pathetic liberals and their hate has got them going to jail. do the crime, do the time.

    April 11, 2013 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  2. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- TAKE BACK THE HOUSE

    Stop whining Mitch. You're on the way out the door. Thank you Progress Kentucky for exposing this career politician and obstructionist.

    April 11, 2013 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  3. GI Joe

    Be afraid Mitch – be very afraid. With low ratings and everyone out to get you, you had better hide somewhere.

    April 11, 2013 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  4. Malory Archer

    Prove it.

    April 11, 2013 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  5. Malory Archer


    well well well. seem the pathetic liberals and their hate has got them going to jail. do the crime, do the time.


    Unless you have proof it was a liberal, you're just blowing smoke.

    April 11, 2013 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  6. The Real Tom Paine


    well well well. seem the pathetic liberals and their hate has got them going to jail. do the crime, do the time.
    Not likely. James O'Keefe got off with a slap on the wrist for bugging the office of Senator Landrieu, and only had to pay a fine for destroying ACORN with a heavily edited video. No one will go to jail.

    April 11, 2013 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |

    It's time for you to go, you bitter old man.

    April 11, 2013 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  8. Sleeping Giants

    Watch out Democratics, your spying is going to be your down fall.

    Watergate crimes stay with you forever. You don't forget, neither will we.

    Mitch can retire, and that is the right way to leave.

    You push him out, there's a price to pay or criminal intention.

    Stop the bad politcal games now. Play fair. That's your "motto ".

    April 11, 2013 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  9. Bob

    Time to expose the Reich Wing haters for who they are.

    Well done!

    April 11, 2013 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  10. Sleeping Giants

    Stop the crimes against Republicans who stand up for freedom and conservative values.

    April 11, 2013 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  11. B

    Thank you progress Kentucky for showing us how pitiful the democrats and liberals are. they are nothing but hipcritical hate mongers. they'll stoop to any level to damage America. can't wait till 2014 when you all get voted out.

    April 11, 2013 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  12. Sleeping Giants

    @GI Joe

    I hope you are an active or retired military person, who truly understands the sacrifice men and women make so all Americans "Dens" and "Reps" and "IND" can vote and be elected to office to represent us in Congress.

    You may or may not be a conservative, but you must believe in our two party system, accountability of the elected to their citizens, and the rule of law.

    April 11, 2013 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  13. Concerned citizen

    Thank you, Progress Kentucky! Your only goal should be to show us what Mitch is!

    April 11, 2013 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  14. Cam

    Liberals were claiming that McConnell outed himself. There's nothing like living in liberal la la land. Unfortunately, their extreme ideology has affected the nation and not in a good way.

    April 11, 2013 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  15. Arun

    Unlike repubes, the dems call out folks on their side that did wrong!! Never really heard a peep about O'Keefe video about Acorn. Did we!!!!

    April 11, 2013 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  16. scranton

    Nothing new here. Liberal brownshirts breaking the laws and stooping to new lows. Well at least they took a break from bashing American Chinese citizens to just the typical bugging of private meetings.

    April 11, 2013 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  17. bcrunner

    @B: This is not anywhere near as bad as what Breitbart did...

    April 11, 2013 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  18. Larry L

    Republicans hate it when they are quoted saying exactly the sleezy thing they said... That's so unfair...

    April 11, 2013 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  19. Pockets

    Could be a set up from within. A way to attract attention from other issues. No one with half a brain would put anything past Mitch. He's a rube, but he's a rube with an agenda. He loves the attention too. You can tell. He hogs the camera, every chance he gets. I'd be careful where my sympathy went to on this one.

    April 11, 2013 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  20. Tom

    So McConnell's office holds an open house inviting the public to visit. People who visit overhear, and record, a conversation that happened while this public event was happening. I'm not a lawyer, but that doesn't sound illegal to me. If McConnell opens the doors of his office to the public any expectation of privacy goes out the window. If the people who made the recording happen to be members of some demon "liberal" group is immaterial. It was a public event. Anything said during that event is public.

    April 11, 2013 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  21. Sleeping Giants

    What if this had been Harry Reed? Um? Talking about some women campaigning against him?

    April 11, 2013 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  22. MaryM

    The tape is out and it exposes McConnell and his flunkies

    April 11, 2013 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  23. Larry in Houston

    unfortunately, the people in Kentucky will most likely Vote him IN again – Truth be known, there's a lot of money floating around in Kentucky – always has been – always will be. People seem to forget every time you go into a Store in Your Own State to purchase almost any type of Liquor – they don't think about where it comes from. As someone who has driven through Kentucky lots of times, there's a lot of Tourism there, + don't forget about all the money that comes IN from Horse racing, & ranches / ranch hands / trainers & the list goes on. Lots of $$$$$ in Kentucky, believe me. Bottom Line : 'ol Mitch will be voted in again. Seems like once they're IN office, even a wild team of horses (pun intended) will never get them OUT .

    April 11, 2013 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  24. Blinded by the republican lie

    Well at least the Dems are fighting back and catching these goons with their pants down...Now they're whining. Funny they don't like it when they're caught doing crap they've done before...

    April 11, 2013 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  25. JohnK

    Mitch is a loyal member of an old white graying and out of touch GOP. He has many enemies gunning for him and don't be surprised when his seat is challenged by the ultra radical right. Mitch is vulnerable...very very vulnerable

    April 11, 2013 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
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