McConnell camp: Reports that liberal group made audiotape are ‘disturbing’

Rachel Rose Hartman
The Ticket

The campaign for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday deplored reports that liberal activist group Progress Kentucky was behind an audiotape published Tuesday by liberal news website Mother Jones of a private meeting between Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and top advisers.

"WFPL's 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," the Kentucky Republican's campaign manager, Jesse Benton, said in a statement about radio station WFPL's report.

Jacob Conway of the Jefferson County Democratic Party, told WFPL Thursday that Progress Kentucky founders Shawn Reilly and Curtis Morrison bragged to him about recording the Kentucky Republican's meeting, which they said they taped while standing in the hallway outside the meeting room.

The tape reveals a conversation between McConnell and his campaign advisers discussing how to challenge a potential Democratic challenger, actress Ashley Judd, by targeting her history of depression and her religious beliefs. Judd announced March 27 she would not run for the Senate seat.

McConnell's camp called for an FBI probe into the recording, saying it was illegally obtained, and met with investigators Wednesday.

Conway told Fox News Thursday that he came forward because he believed it was the right thing to do.

"The only reason that I came forward with what I knew was I was trying to protect the Democratic Party," Conway said. "I believe in our party's values, and I was doing what I thought was best for the party because I did not want their bad behavior—their poor mistakes ... their lack of judgmen—to hurt our party's efforts here in the state of Kentucky and in Jefferson County, here in Louisville."

McConnell, speaking to reporters Tuesday, noted past attacks Progress Kentucky made on his Chinese-American wife, Elaine Chao, which his camp said were race-baiting.