Report: Liberal activist group behind secret McConnell recording

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Sean Higgins

WFPL, a National Public Radio affiliate in Louisville, Ky., has a bombshell report that the activist group Progress Kentucky may have been behind the secret recording of a campaign strategy session by advisers for Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell. If correct, Progress Kentucky may have committed a felony by doing so.

The station reports:

Mother Jones Magazine released the tape this week. The meeting itself took place on Feb. 2.

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.

On the tape, McConnell and his advisors are heard laughing and joking about opposition research they had on actress Ashley Judd, who had been considering running against McConnell next year.

The two apparently were able to record the meeting by crashing an open house held at the senator’s office that day, then lingering behind.

Morrison and Reilly did not attend the open house, but they told Conway they arrived later and were able to hear the meeting from the hallway.

“They were in the hallway after the, I guess after the celebration and hoopla ended, apparently these people broke for lunch and had a strategy meeting, which is, in every campaign I’ve been affiliated with, makes perfect sense,” says Conway. “One of them held the elevator, the other one did the recording and they left. That was what they told to me from them directly.”

Other sources have corroborated this series of events to WFPL. The meeting room door is next to the elevators on that floor. McConnell campaign manager Jesse Benton has told multiple media outlets the door was shut and locked on Feb. 2. But the door has a vent at the bottom and a large gap underneath.

“Apparently the gentlemen overheard the conversation and decided to record it with a phone or recording device they had in their pocket. Could’ve been an iPhone, could’ve been a Flip camera or something like that,” Conway say.

Reilly and Morrison refused to comment on WFPL’s story and as far as I know have not addressed the report elsewhere.

The story goes on to note that under Kentucky law it is a felony to “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.” The caveat here is that if the conversation was audible from the hallway then the law may not apply.

Progress Kentucky has a history of aggressive, ugly attacks against McConnell that have caused Democrats to distance themselves from the group. In February, it posted a serious of conspiracy theory tweets alleging that the senator’s wife, former Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, was some kind of Chinese secret agent sent to steal jobs from Americans.

The secret taping incident is rather baffling in light of the fact that there was nothing incriminating in the tapes themselves, which have elicited a collective yawn in Washington. It is not clear what Progress Kentucky — assuming it really was behind this — and Mother Jones thought they were doing by releasing them.





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Sean Higgins

Senior Writer
The Washington Examiner