McConnell campaign claims office was bugged, will seek FBI investigation

04/09/2013 09:38 AM

UPDATED U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell’s campaign is working with the FBI after describing a leaked recording of a strategy meeting as a “Watergate-style” plan to use internal conversations against the Senate Republican Leader.

In a statement, McConnell Campaign Manager Jesse Benton said the campaign has notified the FBI about the situation.

“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,” Benton said. “Obviously a recording device of some kind was placed in Senator McConnell’s campaign office without consent. By whom and how that was accomplished will presumably will be the subject of a criminal investigation.”

In an earlier statement, Benton had said the bugging of the headquarters was a campaign tactic by Democrats.

“We’ve always said the Left would stop at nothing to attack Sen. McConnell, but Watergate-style tactics to bug campaign headquarters are above and beyond,” Benton said.

In the recording obtained by liberal magazine Mother Jones McConnell and several aides discuss possible challengers to the five-term senator in a meeting on February 2, 2013.

The conversation revolves around then-possible challenger, actress Ashley Judd. Others mentioned included Tea Party businessman Matthew Bevin and Democratic Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes.

In the transcript of the recording, aides indicate the challenges the politically-disciplined Grimes could pose. Pure Politics and other media organizations have made similar points about Grimes strengths as a potential challenger.

The unnamed presenter in the recording described her this way:

Presenter: The best hit we have on her is her blatantly endorsing the 2008 Democratic national platform. This sort of goes back to the Kyle Simmons adage about be careful what you say to friends.

[Plays Grimes interview with Jim Pence, from Hillbilly Report.]

Jim Pence’s voice: I’m going to ask you this. Do you support the national Democratic Party platform?

Grimes’ voice: I do, Jim. You know, unlike my opponent, I am a lifelong Democrat, born and raised—and, and proud to stand up and say I am a Democrat, and running on the Democratic Party ticket.

The recording was published by David Corn, the same reporter who posted the “47 percent” tape of then-GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

Corn did not immediately respond to an e-mailed request for comment.

About Pure Politics

Pure Politics airs Monday through Friday at 7 p.m. ET and again at 11:30 p.m. ET in all of cn|2's Kentucky markets. The program features political analysis and news, as well as interviews with officials, candidates, policy makers and political observers.


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