McConnell campaign demands FBI probe of Mother Jones’ secret recording of meeting

posted at 12:01 pm on April 9, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

Earlier today, David Corn at Mother Jones reported on a private meeting of the Mitch McConnell re-election campaign that focused on strategizing on how to defeat Ashley Judd if she jumped into the race.  The revelations weren’t particularly noteworthy, although Corn and MJ certainly seem to believe they were.  The McConnell team spitballed on attacks on Judd’s public remarks about Christianity and the way it “legitimizes and seals male power,” and her equally public description of her struggles with mental illness.  While the latter may have been an opportunity for a lot of backfire, none of this is terribly unusual, especially since the two examples that Corn highlights are subjects that Judd herself has made public in the first place.  Neither was actually used by the McConnell campaign during Judd’s brief flirtation with the Senate race.

However, the manner in which Corn discovered this may make a lot more news than rehashed episodes from Judd’s public discussions of her life and philosophy.  The McConnell campaign demanded an immediate FBI investigation into the tape recording of the meeting, claiming that it amounts to a wiretap of the campaign itself:

Mitch McConnell’s campaign has accused opponents of bugging McConnell’s headquarters and has asked for an FBI investigation after a recording from an internal campaign meeting surfaced on Mother Jones this morning.

The 12-minute tape reveals McConnell and his campaign staff lampooning then-potential candidate Ashley Judd, whom they call “a haystack of needles” or political liabilities, at a Feb. 2 meeting. Judd has since decided not to run.

“We’ve always said the Left will stop at nothing to attack Sen. McConnell, but Nixonian tactics to bug campaign headquarters is above and beyond,” McConnell campaign manager Jesse Benton said in a statement.

He added: “Senator McConnell’s campaign is working with the FBI and has notified the local U.S. Attorney in Louisville, per FBI request, about these recordings. Obviously a recording device of some kind was placed in Senator McConnell’s campaign office without consent.  By whom and how that was accomplished presumably will be the subject of a criminal investigation.”

Corn famously published the Mitt Romney “47 percent” tape, but that was a much different scenario.  While the fundraiser was invitation only, it took place in a public setting and was a political event.  Strategy sessions in campaign headquarters have a much higher expectation of privacy from recording devices.  Had Corn turned a source inside the room to recount what had taken place, that wouldn’t have any real legal implications.

Is this illegal, however? It depends on who did the recording.  If the person was a participant in the meeting and willingly gave it to Corn, then arguably … no.  Federal law (in general) allows for that kind of recording even in private conversation, and Kentucky is a single-person consent state for recordings. Under those circumstances, the recording participant wouldn’t have to alert any of the other parties to the recording.  If someone who wasn’t a participant recorded this (like the bartender in the “47 percent” tape), however, then it’s much different kettle of fish.

In other words, legal action hinges on the source.  If this proceeds, Corn may end up in the same position as Jana Winter, who actually reported on something of substance but has been largely ignored by her colleagues.  I wonder how many of them will rush to Corn’s defense if pressed to give up his source.  I’d bet it will be a lot more support than Winter received.

Oh, and the Washington Post’s evaluation of Corn’s “scoop” is short and sweet:

While the tape isn’t particularly flattering to the McConnell campaign, it seems like standard opposition research. The meeting’s leader plays clips of Judd speaking on issues like Christianity and her support for President Obama. Attendees point out — as other commentators had before them — that Judd’s liberal position on issues like the environment and abortion would likely not endear her to Kentucky voters.

This is going to be one of the most expensive yawners in recent memory for the media if the FBI pursues this investigation.

Update: Changed “secret” to “private” in first sentence. Campaign meetings aren’t clandestine. They’re just not public.

Update II: Daniel Halper’s sources tell him that “fewer than 10 people” were participating in the meeting, and that the likelihood of one of them being the source for the recording is “very, very slim.”  Halper also notes that state law forbids the planting of recording devices for eavesdropping, and that it’s a Class D felony.  That, however, assumes the recording wasn’t done by one of the 9 or fewer participants.

Update III: Count Chris Cillizza among those bemused by Corn’s “scoop”:

The political world is a-twitter over an audio tape obtained by Mother Jones of a private campaign meeting involving Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell and his 2014 re-election staff in which the past public statements — and mental health — of his one-time potential opponent Ashley Judd is discussed.

The reality: This is much ado about not much. …

But, this — as any campaign operative will tell you — is the basic blocking and tackling of opposition research that every candidate does both against their potential opponents and against themselves.

The real scoop from the tape? Cillizza argues that it’s the lack of oppo ammunition against the presumed Democratic nominee Alison Lundergan Grimes.  Be sure to read it all.

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…and then what?

KOOLAID2 on April 9, 2013 at 12:07 PM

…what will be strongly worded?

KOOLAID2 on April 9, 2013 at 12:08 PM

Mitch McConnell re-election campaign that focused on strategizing on how to defeat Ashley Judd if she jumped into the race.

…Mitch would have gone topless untill election day?

KOOLAID2 on April 9, 2013 at 12:10 PM

corn is awesome baby
-msdnc lackey

will he be a guest on tingles show today? hmmmm

cmsinaz on April 9, 2013 at 12:11 PM

Strategy sessions in campaign headquarters have a much higher expectation of privacy from recording devices.

Based upon…….

libfreeordie on April 9, 2013 at 12:11 PM

I’d bet it will be a lot more support than Winter received

24/7, you betcha

cmsinaz on April 9, 2013 at 12:13 PM

This is going to be one of the most expensive yawners in recent memory for the media

…and don’t forget to follow bluegill on titter!

KOOLAID2 on April 9, 2013 at 12:13 PM

This is going to be one of the most expensive yawners in recent memory for the media if the FBI pursues this investigation.

The comments made by McConnel and his folks will be the main discussion point when this is brought up by the MSM. The legality/illegality of the recording will simply be the backstory. They will use this as a look into the true evil nature of politics in the GOP.

MSM reports that the office may have been bugged…30 seconds of coverage.

MSM then goes on to play audio of worst soundbites and has panel discussion afterwards…5 minutes of coverage.

weaselyone on April 9, 2013 at 12:14 PM

This is going to be one of the most expensive yawners in recent memory for the media if the FBI pursues this investigation.

Eric. Holder.

steebo77 on April 9, 2013 at 12:14 PM

Based upon…….

libfreeordie on April 9, 2013 at 12:11 PM

…your anal cavities!

KOOLAID2 on April 9, 2013 at 12:15 PM

Earlier today, David Corn at Mother Jones reported on a secret meeting of the Mitch McConnell re-election campaign that focused on strategizing on how to defeat Ashley Judd if she jumped into the race.

Secret meeting? Is that we are now calling any meeting not open to the public or on the public schedule?

Happy Nomad on April 9, 2013 at 12:16 PM

Of course, we all know that ‘team obama’ is behind this, but, what difference does it make?

Pork-Chop on April 9, 2013 at 12:18 PM

Strategy sessions in campaign headquarters have a much higher expectation of privacy from recording devices.

Based upon…….

libfreeordie on April 9, 2013 at 12:11 PM

http://hotair.com/archives/2012/06/20/breaking-eric-holder-asks-for-executive-privilege-on-subpoenaed-ff-documents/

weaselyone on April 9, 2013 at 12:18 PM

This is going to be one of the most expensive yawners in recent memory for the media if the FBI pursues this investigation.

It’s just a burglary at Watergate… What’s the big deal?

Skywise on April 9, 2013 at 12:18 PM

Based upon…….

libfreeordie on April 9, 2013 at 12:11 PM

Being private meetings, by private parties, in private buildings.

steebo77 on April 9, 2013 at 12:19 PM

***************** Water Gate Sumpin ****************!!

The Associated Press ‏@AP 38m

Sen. McConnell’s campaign alleges ‘Watergate-style bugging” at headquarters; asks FBI to investigate: http://apne.ws/10QjnJc -KM

https://twitter.com/AP

canopfor on April 9, 2013 at 12:22 PM

Thith ith a big f’n deal.

slickwillie2001 on April 9, 2013 at 12:23 PM

I have to give McConnell props for his handling of this “yawner.” David Corn really overreached thinking the 47% tape gave him open invitation to get his grimy hands on any taped recording of Republicans in action. The tape itself is a big nothingburger yet Corn thought he could spin it into scandal. McConnell immediately turns it into an FBI investigation against Corn.

Yes Corn could end up like Jana Winter and we all know the MSM will suddenly take an interest when Corn is in the hot seat. Do we know for certain Corn is not involved to a greater degree than “reporting.” I wouldn’t be at all surprised. Let the FBI investigate the heck out of Mother Jones, Corn and the rest of the Dem slimeballs would sell their souls (if they had any) to win elections.

msmveritas on April 9, 2013 at 12:23 PM

Of course, we all know that ‘team obama’ is behind this, but, what difference does it make?

Pork-Chop on April 9, 2013 at 12:18 PM

“At this point”

rhombus on April 9, 2013 at 12:24 PM

Strategy sessions in campaign headquarters have a much higher expectation of privacy from recording devices.
Based upon…….
libfreeordie on April 9, 2013 at 12:11 PM

Your right. We should make every word of every public official recorded for all time. Lets start with the last 5 years of the presidency.

nobar on April 9, 2013 at 12:25 PM

I’m still not sure what they think is particularly damaging about that tape in the first place. They were talking tacttics…who the hell cares?

I do find it amusing that Mother Jones has apparently taken up the James O’Keefe approach, when I’m sure they didn’t like it when used against ACORN and others.

changer1701 on April 9, 2013 at 12:25 PM

Does this mean liveasaslaveanddie is perfectly okay with Watergate?

steebo77 on April 9, 2013 at 12:28 PM

Oh Boy,.its ALL Mitch’s Fault,talk about a Dis-Connect,
yup,it must be a BLISS,living in a LeftyTardedWorld!!

I wonder what the response from Ashly Judd would of
been,if she was taped,of a private conversation!
————————————————-

Sen. McConnell campaign secret recordings

Ashley Judd’s spokesman on secret recordings: ‘This is yet another example of the politics of personal destruction that embody Mitch McConnell and are pervasive in Washington, DC’ – via @NBCNews

10 mins ago by editor
=========================

http://www.breakingnews.com/

canopfor on April 9, 2013 at 12:37 PM

canopfor on April 9, 2013 at 12:37 PM

delusional

cmsinaz on April 9, 2013 at 12:38 PM

Based upon…….

libfreeordie on April 9, 2013 at 12:11 PM

the law. Try to keep up.

GWB on April 9, 2013 at 12:38 PM

But, this — as any campaign operative will tell you — is the basic blocking and tackling of opposition research that every candidate does both against their potential opponents and against themselves.

Yeah, that defense worked well for Nixon.

Good Lt on April 9, 2013 at 12:50 PM

Has McConnell opened up his college records..?

d1carter on April 9, 2013 at 12:53 PM

democRATS, are going to demand mitch resign effective immediately, the double standard standard.

phatfawzi on April 9, 2013 at 12:56 PM

Strategy sessions in campaign headquarters have a much higher expectation of privacy from recording devices.

Based upon…….

libfreeordie on April 9, 2013 at 12:11 PM

For starters, probably the employment contract, the contract for services, and/or the confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements that most campaigns use with staff and contract advisers.

Still waiting on you to explain to me how the British people vote for PM and how Thatcher couldn’t have been very good if she never won a majority – never mind that she was the longest serving PM of Great Britain in the 20th century. That’s a keeper!

Yews bees so smaht!

Resist We Much on April 9, 2013 at 12:57 PM

“Based upon…”

Based upon June 17 1972.

xkaydet65 on April 9, 2013 at 1:00 PM

And when Eric Holder says “no we don’t care”, Sen. McConnell, will you obediently lean across the isle and fellate him and his jug-eared boss, as you use to do in situations when your personal electability is not on the line?

Archivarix on April 9, 2013 at 1:02 PM

canopfor on April 9, 2013 at 12:37 PM

delusional

cmsinaz on April 9, 2013 at 12:38 PM

cmsinaz:Exactly:)

canopfor on April 9, 2013 at 1:09 PM

Good people of Kentucky, pls. throw McConnell out. What an aristocratic buffoon, in all regards!

Yes, yes, MJ are scumbags.

p.s. libnotfree is for USSR measures, unless they are applied to his own. You fool!!!

Schadenfreude on April 9, 2013 at 1:16 PM

Very good tactic.

A) Make every attendee sign an affidavit that they did not record the meeting.

B) Accuse Mother Jones of wiretapping — because nobody in the meeting recorded the meeting, and therefore it had to be a wiretap.

Now, either
1) someone in group (A) is lying, or
2) Mother Jones really did wiretap.

File a suit to bring things into the open. Mother Jone’s only defense against wiretapping is to name someone in the meeting. If they choose not to do so, then there it is…

unclesmrgol on April 9, 2013 at 1:21 PM

Based upon…….

libfreeordie on April 9, 2013 at 12:11 PM

Suppose we turn the Proppressive superweapon strawman back on them.

libfreeordie:

What are your limits on dealing with political opponents?

Apparently Watergate-esqe wiretapping is A-Okay with you, so where would draw the line?

Would political concentration camps meet your approval?

Would you give a thumbs up to operations designed to eliminate opponents?

What are your limits on this sort of thing?

Galt2009 on April 9, 2013 at 1:22 PM

I sure would like to hear the Obama/Rashid Khalidi recording…

steebo77 on April 9, 2013 at 1:23 PM

I can’t wait to hear Piers Morgan’s take on this.

steebo77 on April 9, 2013 at 1:24 PM

libfreeordie:

What are your limits on dealing with political opponents?

correction:

Apparently Watergate-esqe wiretapping is A-Okay with you, so where You would draw the line?

Would political concentration camps meet your approval?

Would you give a thumbs up to operations designed to eliminate opponents?

What are your limits on this sort of thing?

Galt2009 on April 9, 2013 at 1:29 PM

I can’t wait to hear Piers Morgan’s take on this.

steebo77 on April 9, 2013 at 1:24 PM

From the report by the Levenson Inquiry:

“…[C]learly prove is that [Piers Morgan] was aware that [phone hacking] was taking place in the press as a whole and that he was sufficiently unembarrassed by what was criminal behaviour that he was prepared to joke about it.”

Resist We Much on April 9, 2013 at 1:42 PM

all GOP/RNC groups are totally compromised. They are generally too dumb to know it.

1…eageer cheap-trick pols wanting to get some friends in the press
2…cheap trick pol wanting revenge
3…pols who get sloppy drunk and like to gossip…or those that have dirt somewhere in their history (I think this is common)
4…Sloppy, stupid pols that leave materials on tables to be picked up later by DNC surveiliance
5…Moles
6…etc.

the left historically runs a tight ship…no snitch rules are in effect. Lose lips sink ships

Maybe the Rs will wake up someday and start caring less about the color of their drapes, and their hair and makeup…and begin counter-surveillance

And purge the moles and the dirty pols

r keller on April 9, 2013 at 2:10 PM

Ashley Judd’s spokesman on secret recordings: ‘This is yet another example of the politics of personal destruction that embody Mitch McConnell and are pervasive in Washington, DC’

Sounds like this was a fail but what they are really trying to do here is demonize McConnell to the point he will be primaried. The tape doesn’t even have to be in context just so long as they say mean things about Ashley Judd.

Unfortunately for them, not only are strategy sessions generally boring but Ashley Judd just isn’t all that likeable to begin with. And is she not a haystack full of needles? She can’t even play the victim well (not that her acting ability is noteworthy other than being willing to go topless for her “art”).

But on a more serious note, it is clear that the rat-eared devil has already started in on 2014 campaign dirty tricks. GOP candidates should act accordingly.

Happy Nomad on April 9, 2013 at 2:11 PM

And they wonder why McConnell and Boehner cut back room deals. Can’t trust the people around you with any information.

HopeHeFails on April 9, 2013 at 3:06 PM

I ate some Corn for supper last night.

Y’all know the rest of the story.

Del Dolemonte on April 9, 2013 at 3:17 PM

Eric. Holder.

steebo77 on April 9, 2013 at 12:14 PM

My. First. Thought.

Half this country – now likely to be more than half – believes the highest law enforcement officer in the land is a criminal. Nixon enlisted the FBI in his criminal activities, and now Zero has, too. This corrupt administration has only to ways to go: implosion and they are run out of office, or totalitarianism. When law and order has ceased to exist, it can only go one of those two ways. How much will the American people stand for?

Rational Thought on April 9, 2013 at 3:32 PM

There is no rule of law anymore. We are whistling in the dark.

tom daschle concerned on April 9, 2013 at 4:03 PM

Libfree you’re a tool. Bl ow me.

CW on April 9, 2013 at 6:39 PM

Libfree you’re a tool. Bl ow me.

CW on April 9, 2013 at 6:39 PM

…he doesn’t want to have to move HotLips…out of the way!

KOOLAID2 on April 9, 2013 at 9:39 PM