The top Republican in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, is asking the feds to investigate whether a closed campaign meeting was illegally wiretapped by his political opponents. The issue arises after the liberal outlet Mother Jones published "A recording of a private meeting between the Senate GOP leader and campaign aides."
In a statement to the press, McConnell's campaign manager, Jesse Benton, says the feds are getting involved. "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," says Benton. "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 be the subject of a criminal investigation."
The federal wiretapping law thought to have been violated reads, "It shall not be unlawful under this chapter for a person acting under color of law to intercept a wire, oral, or electronic communication, where such person is a party to the communication or one of the parties to the communication has given prior consent to such interception."
And surreptitious recording also violates Kentucky law, where this meeting took place:
526.030 Installing eavesdropping device.
(1) A person is guilty of installing an eavesdropping device when he intentionally installs or places such a device in any place with the knowledge that it is to be used for eavesdropping.
(2) Installing an eavesdropping device is a Class D felony.
Effective: January 1, 1975
History: Created 1974 Ky. Acts ch. 406, sec. 228, effective January 1, 1975.
An aide to McConnell's office tells me the recorded meeting took place in a conference room rented out by the campaign and that there were fewer than 10 people present. (The conference room is not shared; it is used exclusively by the campaign.) The likelihood it was an inside job--that it was recorded by someone invited to the meeting--is, I'm told, very, very slim.
Mother Jones says the recording "reveals how far they were willing to go to defeat the actor/activist."
"On February 2, Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the US Senate, opened up his 2014 reelection campaign headquarters in Louisville, Kentucky, and in front of several dozen supporters vowed to 'point out' the weaknesses of any opponent fielded by the Democrats. 'They want to fight? We're ready,' he declared. McConnell was serious: Later that day, he was huddling with aides in a private meeting to discuss how to attack his possible Democratic foes, including actor/activist Ashley Judd, who was then contemplating challenging the minority leader. During this strategy session—a recording of which was obtained by Mother Jones—McConnell and his aides considered assaulting Judd for her past struggles with depression and for her religious views," reports Mother Jones, which does not reveal how exactly they received this recording.