McConnell campaign chief calls recording 'Gestapo' tactics
April 10th, 2013
04:38 PM ET
10 years ago

McConnell campaign chief calls recording 'Gestapo' tactics

(CNN) – Calling the surreptitious recording of a strategy session "Gestapo kind of scare tactics," Sen. Mitch McConnell's campaign chief said Wednesday the FBI was continuing their investigation of the audio tapes at the Senate GOP leader's campaign offices.

"The FBI is taking this very seriously," McConnell's campaign manager Jesse Benton said on Mike Huckabee's radio show. "They were at our office for about an hour today. They tell us that they're running down some leads."

Benton said the investigators were "cautious" with what they were sharing with him.

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.

"This kind of stuff just has no place in a free society," Benton said. "This is Gestapo kind of scare tactics, and we're not going to stand for it. Kentuckians shouldn't stand for it, the American people, regardless of their personal political persuasion, should not stand for this."

Benton asserted later that he could "say with the utmost certainty that this did not come from anybody inside our campaign."

On Tuesday, FBI spokesman Paul Bresson confirmed the agency was "looking into the matter" of the secretly recorded tapes.

Filed under: Kentucky • Mitch McConnell
soundoff (46 Responses)
  1. Pete

    @freedom,what about Nixon wanting Ted Kennedy taken out when he was president because he knew if Ted ran Nixon wouldn't have a snowballs chance in hell of winning.And can you say sleezy politics just look up the republicans playbook bud they wrote it..And remember how your adulterers come back to your party greeted with open arms and if democrates like Clinton,Weiner did it you crucified them didn't yah..True hypocrites and true idiots as well!!

    April 10, 2013 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  2. just askin

    Your point is...? Whether this be a republican or democrat it is still underhanded and not acceptable. So because Mrs. Judd made her life struggles public information, it should be used against her? How does her having depression make her a bad candidate for Congress? Why is it acceptable to you if the Republicans do it simply because the Democrats would do the same thing if given the chance?
    are you kidding me? our highest offices should not be in the possession of known mentally ill people. they make decisions that affect all of our lives. so you would have no problem with a known schizo in the white house? finger on the nuclear button? i am beginning to think all of you leftiies have mental issues if you have no problem with this.

    besides voters have a right to know everything about a candidate, especially if there are known metal illness issues.

    April 10, 2013 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  3. rs

    Wow, McConnell, just because you got caught planning to smear a private citizen (she was not a declared candidate), I think that is a wee bit harsh. I'd go with "Nixonian".

    April 10, 2013 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  4. just sayin

    ashley judd's mental problems should disqualify her from owning and possessing firearms, let alone public office. but don't worry, i'm sure she's taking loads of drugs to deal with it. yeah... let's all get her in office and give her a gun while we are at it. get real people.

    April 10, 2013 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  5. wwf

    What oh what will they say if it is one of his own people with an ax to grind. I am sure they will have an answer. They always do.

    April 10, 2013 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  6. jkane sfl the gop national disgrace party will be swept out like the trash they are in2014 ?

    The gop garbage party is self destructing and can be compared to the Nazi and communist party of the ussr, party before people at any cost . They are going to lose the house in mid terms!!!! Get ready voters !!!!

    April 10, 2013 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  7. Debbie

    Really comparing this to the Holocaust? Really? So what secret police are using terrorist methods against the McConnell campaign. If the campaign chief uses the term "Gestapo" then he must state what secret police and what specific terrorist methods are being used. Otherwise stop the drama and stop comparing every issue to the Holocaust!

    April 10, 2013 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  8. freedom


    Ted Kennedy left a woman to drown in a lake, Hilary Clinton was involved in the Whitewater scandal where someone coincidentally and mysteriously died, some were convicted, and later pardoned by Bill Clinton, the Kennedy's were more than likely involved in Marilyn Monroe's overdose, and Hilary Clinton has since been involved in the total debacle of Benghazi where four men were brutally murdered (and claims "what difference does it make?"). Nixon's deeds are like candy compared to this bunch.

    April 10, 2013 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  9. Lisa P.

    "This kind of stuff just has no place in a free society," Benton said. "This is Gestapo kind of scare tactics, and we're not going to stand for it. Kentuckians shouldn't stand for it, the American people, regardless of their personal political persuasion, should not stand for this."
    Benson doesn't know much history if he thinks that Gestapo "scare tactics" were about a free press publishing your uncomfortably nasty political strategy sessions where everyone can read about them. Frankly, if the German press *had* been able to do this sort of thing to the Nazi party in the 1920's Adolph Hitler might have ended up as an obscure footnote in German political history - part of the reason he rose to power was that no one took his poisonous ideas and bully tactics seriously until it was too late. Sunshine is the best disinfectant.

    April 10, 2013 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  10. ghostriter

    Just askin' voters have a right to know everything about a candidate....except his tax returns, is what you meant to say.

    April 10, 2013 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  11. ghostriter

    I have no issues with the campaign going after her mental issues. That's politics. Is it horrible? Sure. But perfectly fair as all is in love and war.

    That said, do we really need another republican blaming democrats for stuff wihtout a shred of proof? Haven't we had enough of that the past 5 years?

    New rule (sorry Bill): If you call for an investigation and it comes up that you were just blowing smoke, the costs of the investigation will be deducted from your salary, campaign fund, pension, whatever. And you must issue a ublic apology stating what a bone head you are.

    April 10, 2013 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  12. 2012liberal

    @justaskin judd wrote about her depression n her memories. Not like it was some buried secret. And it's ppl like u that r the problem not the solution! And i bet more than half the congressmen r on anti-depressants and hv therapist.

    April 10, 2013 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  13. Gorbashov - Long Beach, Ca.

    McChinless is trying to divert attention away from the fact that his staff may have violated the law by discussing campaign issues on the governments time.

    There is no evidence that the office was bugged. This was an inside job. Gestapo indeed.

    April 10, 2013 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  14. jinx9to88

    Gotta love scared Repubs!! You know their scared when they start blaming Obama. Enough said. McConnell is gone along with the house Repubs in 2014.

    April 10, 2013 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  15. Mary

    Taping conversations in this manner, without consent is a crime! The McConnell campaign team discussing a strategy is not. Whether you like what was being discussed or not, the criminal is the person who placed the recording device.
    Why is this not the real issue?

    April 10, 2013 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  16. Anthony in California


    Do you EVER bring anything of substance to the conversation? EVER?
    All you ever do is knee-jerk the opposite of whatever Obama or the Democrat's or any of the commenter's points are, even when it contradicts realities you know to be true, or things Republicans are known for. They say the sky is blue and you say it's red. They say water is wet and you say its dry. You are seriously delusional, and the country will be better off once people like you and your backward thinking minds have expired from the planet.

    "The Democrats, leftists and Obama have shown over and over that the laws of this nation mean nothing to them. They will do whatever they want to accompllish their ends. The laws of this country are merely suggestions to these lawless criminals."

    Someone must have been asleep during the Bush Cheney Regime.....

    April 10, 2013 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  17. S.B. Stein

    I think that there was someone using their phone to record this that is a part of the campaign that thought going after Judd a mistake.

    April 10, 2013 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  18. stick it

    I wonder if ashley owns a gun hmmmmmmm and yes mental illness is a obvious reason that some one not be allowed to own a gun or be a senetor or congressman

    April 11, 2013 12:09 am at 12:09 am |
  19. retief1954

    Mitch McConnell... Reason Number One that I would NEVER, EVER, EVER consider living in Kentucky.

    April 11, 2013 12:20 am at 12:20 am |
  20. NameTomo

    I'm betting it was the McConnell campaign looking for that conspiracy vote. Never trust a turtle.

    April 11, 2013 01:46 am at 1:46 am |
  21. Robert

    The likely scenario is that one of McConnell's "political operatives" taped the meeting. I hope the FBI gives them all lie detector sessions.

    April 11, 2013 07:17 am at 7:17 am |
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