April 11th, 2013
03:52 PM ET
10 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. Anonymous

    So let me see. The "progressives" were legally in a new office for McConnell, heard the McConnel team comments which you would normally expect from a group of dysfunctional middle school girls badmouthing a rival, held an elevator door open and recorded? No illegal bug in the room? No one pretending to be a telephone repairman like the little dweeb who likes to dress up as a right-winger's idea of a pimp when he tried to wiretap Sen Landrieu's office? No breaking and entering? And why can't I get the image of a beached squid out of my mind when I see this photo of Mitch?

    April 11, 2013 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  2. Yakobi

    Typical democrat hypocrisy. If this ILLEGAL activity were done by a conservative group, you'd never hear the end of it on NBC, CBS, ABC and MSNBC. But because a left-wing group is behind it, they're just "inexperienced good men" with "hearts in the right place."
    The new name for the democrats should be hypo-crats!

    April 11, 2013 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  3. Jules

    They must be secret Republicans spying on the Dems to do something that stupid.

    April 11, 2013 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  4. tony

    After the support the repubs gave to the fake and illegal conservative video of acorn staff actually trying to help them find home, as they were asked, then they deserve everything thrown at them.

    April 11, 2013 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  5. mrhapiguy

    Ok, so now we know how it was recorded. It may or may not have been legal, the courts can figure that out.

    Can we now discuss the sickness of the recorded conversation itself?

    April 11, 2013 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  6. jinx9to88

    Mitch calls in the FBI, but wants government to stay out of people lives. Isnt FBI part of the government? O I get it Mitch only wants government when he needs it sounds like the Repubs that want FEMA abolished until a hurricane rips through the community. Hypocites!!!

    April 11, 2013 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  7. Cat

    Hey, Mitch, I think you should stick your head between your legs and kiss your butt, good bye!!!! You are out of there!!!!!!

    April 11, 2013 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  8. AngieS

    Sounds like a misappropriation of resources and federal funds, to me...wasting FBI time and money on an "investigation" into his own wrongdoing? Really??!!

    April 11, 2013 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  9. Lenny Pincus

    What a bozo. He's being a big shot bragging how he and his crew are going to take down Judd–while his political opponents are in the same room.

    Wiretapping? Man, the right wing has sure gotten soft.

    April 11, 2013 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  10. Cat

    All "us" liberals are just calling him what he is "slime ball !!!

    April 11, 2013 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  11. HenkV

    These are members of the ruling class, so they therefore did nothing wrong.

    April 11, 2013 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
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