April 13th, 2013
10:17 AM ET
2 years ago

Democratic official bats down reported twist involving secret tape

(CNN) - It would be the latest strange twist in the story involving actress Ashley Judd, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and a secretly recorded tape of a campaign strategy session.

But the local Democratic official who a Kentucky newspaper reported Saturday would recant at least some of his story tells CNN that the report is not true.

The Louisville Courier-Journal reported that Jacob Conway, an executive committee member of the Louisville-Jefferson County Democratic Party, wrote Saturday morning that Conway had spoken to a lawyer for one of the men he said recorded the tape "and told him he would recant his story."

Following that report, Conway said in a statement to CNN he had no plans to change his tune.

"Contrary to what has been reported, I have not, nor will I, reverse my account of the event(s) in question," he said. "I stand by the statements I made on Thursday to the FBI and to the media. I am cooperating fully with the FBI and out of respect to their investigation, I will not be making any further public statements."

The audio recording is of political operatives huddling at McConnell's campaign headquarters in Kentucky discussing potentially attacking Judd's mental health, as well as her left-leaning politics. Judd considered a run next year for the U.S. Senate seat held by McConnell, but she announced last month that after "serious and thorough contemplation, I realize that my responsibilities and energy at this time need to be focused on my family."

Then this week the audio recording appeared on the website of liberal magazine Mother Jones.

Conway entered the story when he said members of the liberal group Progress Kentucky told him in February the recording was their work.

"They told me about it pretty much the day or the day after it happened," Conway told CNN earlier this week. "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 said. "One of them held the elevator and the other one recorded it."

After one of the members told him about the recording, he spoke to the other, who confirmed the story. When he read the Mother Jones article detailing the tapes, "I put two and two together," 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 tapes, and Conway told CNN after his interview that he was also talking to FBI agents.

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 is Chinese-American, and the practice of outsourcing 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.

– CNN's Kevin Bohn and Gregory Wallace contributed to this report


Filed under: 2014 • Ashley Judd • Kentucky • Mitch McConnell
soundoff (13 Responses)
  1. Larry L

    Typical for a slimy politician like McConnell to see the problem in the method he was found saying something evil – the messenger not the message. To suggest they should use the mental health treatment issues to smear an opponent is straight out of the Karl Rove playbook. McConnell is famous for one thing... He's the only Senator in history to filibuster his own proposal!

    April 13, 2013 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  2. rla

    Bet what he said pales if we heard a tape of conversations inside Kentucky Progress.

    April 13, 2013 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  3. lottie

    what the republicans say in private or to their donors should be a good clue as to what they really think. Like the 47% Why would anyone trust them? The idea that they where going to use Judd's past mental health issues in their campaign to show her as a looney is what's wrong with the party that want's more laws for mental health issues. and less for guns. Does making fun of a persons mental health make more people want to seek treatment? I think not. The GOP is the party of compassion. NOT!

    April 13, 2013 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  4. Rick McDaniel

    The Dem socialists simply have unfairly targeted McConnell, and the entire joke of that........is McConnell is the MODERATE Republican........with most Republicans not happy about the fact he has been so MODERATE!

    April 13, 2013 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  5. sCOTT

    Typical for a left wing group to break the law, left wing radicals and their democratic friends have a blant disregard for the laws of this country, What do you expect from a bunch of liberal losers. They should be held accountable and jailed.

    April 13, 2013 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  6. Scott

    typical Left wing slimeball politics from the left wing radicals and their Democratic allies. I guess they think they are above the law. Arrest them and jail them.

    April 13, 2013 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  7. Pk duster

    Will they after learn i like ashley do they remember the 49 percent tape

    April 13, 2013 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  8. Lionel

    McConnell is a slim ball. He is playing the victim here when we all know that he is involved in sorts of dirty tricks.

    Isn't it also illegal for his staff to be conducting research on someone. Oh let me guess, they were doing this on their own time.

    April 13, 2013 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  9. Pk duster

    Miss judd is to to nice to run for office if we get get rid of mitch and the old gop farts and put in a nice dem may be we 2n trust bost parties again

    April 13, 2013 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  10. Pete

    @Ria,don't like it when the shoes on the other foot ha..Typical hypocrite republican you are thinking your so called sanctumonious McConnell never did anything wrong or corrupt..Better stand back so when he's caught he doesn't explode on you from guilt built up inside him ..Ask his Asianamerican wife how she felt about shipping all our jobs over to Asia at our expence and Bushs directions..Maybe if they go live in China you Ria can go serve as their maid or something like that for starters...And remember he's only here till midterms so you and him better start packing if you love the racist so much!!

    April 13, 2013 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  11. Larry L

    @Rick McDaniel

    The Dem socialists simply have unfairly targeted McConnell, and the entire joke of that........is McConnell is the MODERATE Republican........with most Republicans not happy about the fact he has been so MODERATE!
    ====================================
    He filibustered HIS OWN PROPOSAL! How much more of an obstructionist could a Senator be?

    April 13, 2013 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  12. just sayin

    "They told me about it pretty much the day or the day after it happened," Conway told CNN earlier this week. "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 said. "One of them held the elevator and the other one recorded it."
    -–

    It is pretty clear the illegal activities of the far left Democrat Party and their ultra left lunatic fringe Progressive caucas that controls the Democrat Party are just the beginning. Obama has shown repeatedly that he does not have to follow o enforce our laws if he doesn't want to, while using other laws to attack his political opponents and people that ARE trying to enforce our laws.

    Wake up America and witness the facism of the far left that has now emerged in America in the form of the Democrat Party.. They are destroying the country from the inside, starting with their indoctrination of our children in he schools that they control. We are becoming Russia a little more every day. In 30 years, we will be Communist America. Wake up America!

    April 13, 2013 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  13. Evergreen

    McConnell's attacks were on a private citizen not a political opponent.

    April 13, 2013 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |