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Did David Corn Break the Law?

2:20 PM, Apr 11, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
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David Corn, the Mother Jones writer who released the "secret tape" of a Mitch McConnell campaign meeting, might have broken the law by publishing information that appears to have been obtained illegally, according to sources.

Asked about how the tape was obtained yesterday on TV, Corn said, "We did not make the tape. We were provided the tape. And that it is our understanding that the tape was not part of any Watergate style bugging operation, as Mitch McConnell has claimed it to be."

But as details trickle out, it seems Corn might not have been particularly forthright about the tactics used.

Now, it's being reported that two members of Kentucky Progress, a local liberal organization, "were able to hear the meeting from the hallway," according to

On Feb. 2, McConnell opened his campaign headquarters in the Watterson Office Park in Louisville and invited trusted GOP activists and select media outlets to an open house. The event lasted roughly two hours. Afterward, McConnell and several campaign advisors held a strategy session in an office meeting room.

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.

From the hallway, they are believed to have recorded, which is a possible violation of the law.

And if it is--a question prosecutors will likely have to grapple with very soon--then Corn's publishing of that illegally obtained information might also be a violation of the law.

That is, if this Kentucky law on "Divulging illegally obtained information" is applicable in this instance:

526.060 Divulging illegally obtained information.

(1)  A person is guilty of divulging illegally obtained information when he knowingly uses or divulges information obtained through eavesdropping or tampering with private communications or learned in the course of employment with a communications common carrier engaged in transmitting the message.

(2)  Divulging illegally obtained information is a Class A misdemeanor. 

One GOP campaign veteran says, "Based on my reading of the relevant Kentucky statute, If Corn knowingly took this tape from the 'Louisville Plumbers' he's breaking the law here too. Or maybe he thinks his previous comments on this whole botched operation are 'no longer operative.'"

The FBI is still investigating, and has gone to the McConnell campaign headquarters and pulled video surveillance tape from the building.

UPDATE: Fox News provides more information on Mother Jones's possible connection to the source:


Jacob Conway, who is with the Jefferson County Democratic Party, told Fox News that two leaders with the group Progress Kentucky told him at the time that they recorded the session. He said it wasn't a "Nixonian bugging," but could have been recorded with an iPhone.

Conway told Fox News they recorded the meeting from the hallway, and later told him about it.

"I don't know why they were at the grand opening of his campaign office. ... They overheard the conversation going on," he said. "To me it was an extremely tacky conversation ... but it was a private conversation nonetheless."

Conway did not specifically say the operatives gave the tape to Mother Jones, but said: "They told me they were there. They told me they were in the hallway. They have a recording. So you know, you can draw your own conclusions."


UPDATE: Brad Daypsring of the National Republican Senatorial Committee targets Corn:

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