The right is trying to spin reports that Progress Kentucky is behind the leaked Mitch McConnell tape as vindication for the Kentucky senator, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.
WFPL in Louisville reported that, “A secret recording of a campaign strategy session between U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell and his advisors was taped by leaders of the Progress Kentucky super PAC, says a longtime local Democratic operative…Jacob Conway, who is on the executive committee of the Jefferson County Democratic Party, says that day, Shawn Reilly and Curtis Morrison, who founded and volunteered for Progress Kentucky, respectively, bragged to him about how they recorded the meeting. Conway says neither the local nor the state Democratic party had any part in the incident.”
David Corn, who published the tape on Mother Jones, told Politico, “It’s a confidential source, until the source comes forward, we don’t comment.”
Republicans are claiming that this report vindicates McConnell, but there are some problems with that statement.
According to the same WFPL report, “It’s unclear why Reilly and Morrison held onto the tape for so long. Kentucky law says it is a felony ‘to overhear, record amplify or transmit any part of a wire or oral communication of others without the consent of at least one party thereto by means of any electric, mechanical or other device.’ But if the conversation was audible from a hallway, it’s disputable whether recording qualifies as eavesdropping.”
Remember, the McConnell campaign claimed that they had been the victim of a Watergate style bugging inside of the office where the meeting took place. This apparently wasn’t true. If a court finds that McConnell had no expectation of privacy, because he was speaking loudly enough to be heard in the hallway, then there was no felony. At best, it is a grey area. What is clear though is that this wasn’t a Democratic plot to “get McConnell.” Why the left is groaning today is because Progress Kentucky are the same two “activists” who sent out a racist tweet about McConnell’s wife in February.
The bigger problem for McConnell is that CREW has filed an FBI complaint against him for misusing official staff for campaign purposes. “Using taxpayer-funded resources to pay staffers to dig up dirt on political opponents isn’t just an ethics violation, it’s a federal crime. Sen. McConnell requested, the FBI is investigating the recording. A thorough and fair investigation necessitates the bureau also inquire into whether Sen. McConnell himself violated the law,” said CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan.
The leaked tape opened up a can of worms for McConnell. The Republican still hasn’t answered questions concerning his remarks about Ashley Judd’s mental health, and now he has to deal with an ethics complaint.
Mitch McConnell is not the victim here, and he has definitely not been vindicated. What Progress Kentucky did, much to the dismay of Democrats, was feed the vulnerable incumbent’s desperate attempt to ride right wing paranoia to reelection.
In the big picture Sen. McConnell has a lot to answer for, and he remains America’s least popular senator.
Mr. Easley is the managing editor. He is also a White House Press Pool and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association