U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell has banked nearly $13 million for his re-election campaign, including more than $1.8 million since January, according to a financial report filed with the Federal Election Commission on Monday.
The FEC filing also shows he still has more than $8.6 million on hand.
"Mitch's popularity and deep, longstanding support make him the most prolific fundraiser in the game," said campaign manager Jesse Benton. "We are building the best statewide campaign America has ever seen, and will work hard to make Kentucky proud."
The latest report shows McConnell with an enormous head start over any potential rivals, although no serious challengers have stepped forward so far.
One of two members of Progress Kentucky who allegedly recorded a campaign meeting between U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell and his campaign staff is now saying he was "just a witness" through his attorneys.
Progress Kentucky Executive Director Shawn Reilly denies any wrongdoing. As first reported by WHAS 11, Reilly says he was merely at McConnell's office when the recording happened.
His attorneys are putting the blame solely on Curtis Morrison, a volunteer with the liberal Super PAC. Reilly's attorneys have not returned multiple calls to them since Friday.
Mother Jones magazine published the secret recording earlier this week, and legal experts say it could be considered eavesdropping. But Louisville criminal defense lawyer Brendan McLeod says just being a witness to eavesdropping is murkier legal grounds.
An attorney for Shawn Reilly, one of the members of the liberal group Progress Kentucky who was implicated in the McConnell office recording, says his client did nothing wrong when he and another member of the group went to the Senator's Louisville campaign office in early February.
Attorney Ted Shouse is quoted in the Courier-Journal as saying neither Reilly or Curtis Morrison, another member of Progress Kentucky, broke any laws.
Jefferson County Democratic Party official Jacob Conway told Kentucky Public Radio earlier this week that he overheard Reilly and Morrison bragging about recording a McConnell campaign re-election strategy meeting Feb. 2. According to Conway, the two men said they were in a hallway outside the office when they made the secret recording, which they later turned over to Mother Jones.
Mother Jones has since published audio excerpts from the meeting. McConnell campaign manager Jesse Benton says the FBI spent an hour inside the Republican Senator's office Wednesday, investigating the possible source of the audio recording. Benton says the McConnell office wants those responsible prosecuted.
The campaign manager for Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell says the FBI spent about an hour in the Senator’s Louisville office Wednesday, investigating a secret recording made of McConnell and staffers.
Audio from a re-election strategy meeting was published by the liberal news magazine Mother Jones.
The Herald-Leader reports campaign manager Jesse Benton says staffers have given pertinent information to the FBI, which has asked the campaign not to discuss details of its investigation. Benton told the paper that he thought the FBI had several leads in the case, and that he hoped whoever was responsible for making the recording would be prosecuted.
Kentucky allows individuals to record conversations to which they are a party without informing the other parties that they are doing so.
McConnell said the recording was an example of “Nixonian” tactics on the left, and that those behind the secret recording used “Watergate style tactics.”
Mother Jones says it received the recording from someone who requested anonymity. Mother Jones published audio excerpts from the McConnell meeting, in which the Kentucky Republican is heard comparing the early stages of the Senate campaign to a game of “whac-a-mole”.
A staffer also discussed strategies the McConnell campaign would use against actress Ashley Judd, who was considering a challenge to McConnell, but who has since said she won’t run. In the recording, the staffer says the campaign would use Judd’s admissions of depression and suicidal thoughts against her, and would also make issue of Judd’s attitudes towards what the staffer called “traditional Christianity.”
Two national Democratic groups are ramping up their fight against Senator Mitch McConnell's re-election efforts.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is targeting McConnell for his votes against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the Violence against Women Act.
And the Senate Majority PAC, run by Majority Leader Harry Reid, has launched a website about McConnell, who they call Beltway Mitch. It criticizes McConnell for his refusal to compromise on sequestration. The website notes sequestration is costing many public school districts in Kentucky.
The McConnell campaign did not respond to a request for comment.
Mitch McConnell’s campaign is asking the FBI to look into an audio recording of a staff meeting that was leaked to Mother Jones magazine. In the recording, Senator McConnell is heard saying that the campaign will aggressively attack any opponents and “do them out.”
The U.S. Senate Minority Leader also compared the early stages of the Senate campaign to a game of “Whac-A-Mole”, a game where participants strike an animated mole when it pops its head out of a hole.
Staffers also discuss at length the mental history of Ashley Judd, the Kentucky-born actress who was considering a Senate run against McConnell, but has since announced she will not run. A staffer is heard detailing Judd’s past admissions concerning episodes of depression and suicidal thoughts, calling Judd “emotionally unbalanced.”
McConnell campaign manager Jesse Benton told the Courier-Journal that the recording amounted to “Watergate-style tactics” and that the campaign would allow the FBI to investigate the matter and not comment any further.
A Politico profile of Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell's reelection campaign describes the effort as using a "scorched earth" policy against any potential challengers.
McConnell has already aired $200,000 in TV and radio ads and has approached state Republican lawmakers in the state in an effort to "lock down" support in his party. The U.S. Senate Minority Leader could potentially face a primary challenge from the right, in addition to a potentially well-funded Democratic opponent in the general election.
With actress Ashley Judd announcing this week that she will not challenge McConnell, many political observers will now renew their focus on the possible Senate candidacy of Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes.
Actress Ashley Judd announced on Twitter Wednesday that she will not run for U.S. Senate in 2014. She had been rumored to be considering a run against Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell.
In a series of posts, the Kentucky native and current Tennessee resident said "After serious and thorough contemplation, I realize that my responsibilities & energy at this time need to be focused on my family. Regretfully, I am currently unable to consider a campaign for the Senate."
"I have spoken to so many Kentuckians over these last few months who expressed their desire for a fighter for the people & new leader. While that won't be me at this time, I will continue to work... as hard as I can to ensure the needs of Kentucky families are met by returning this Senate seat to whom it rightfully belongs: the people & their needs, dreams, and great potential. Thanks for even considering me as that person & know how much I love our Commonwealth."
It's likely that with Judd's announcement there will be increased attention on Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, a potential Senate challenger many establishment Democrats favored over Judd in the first place.