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.
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.”