Shortly after Mother Jones Magazine published a transcript of a McConnell Campaign strategy meeting the organization announced they have asked the FBI to investigate how Mother Jones obtained the recording. We have previously written about the easy availability of surreptitious listening devices here.
On the tapes McConnell and aides are heard discussed opposition research they have compiled on possible challengers most prominently actress Ashley Judd. The campaign is not happy about the release of the recording. I am sure they are concerned voters will find their talk about using Judd’s mental health and religious views as political fodder disturbing. Here is the meeting leader discussing the mental health issue:
Ah, and again. She's clearly, this sounds extreme, but she is emotionally unbalanced. I mean it's been documented. Jesse can go in chapter and verse from her autobiography about, you know, she's suffered some suicidal tendencies. She was hospitalized for 42 days when she had a mental breakdown in the '90s.
NBC News quotes McConnell Campaign Manager Jesse Benton as saying "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." While it is possible someone had planted a listening device, it is more likely a staff member or intern attending the meeting made the recording. Kentucky is a one party state so anyone invited to the meeting who made the recording would not have violated state or federal wiretapping laws. Releasing a recording of a private meeting to the media certainly exposes one to civil invasion of privacy lawsuits. It is hard to believe Mother Jones attorneys would allow the use of a recording they felt was illegally obtained.
If some meeting participants attended through a conference call it is possible an uninvited caller obtained the conference call codes and made the recording. Federal authorities are not shy about going after this sort of political spying. Some years ago Ed Matricardi, the Virginia Republican Party Executive Director pled guilty in federal court to one eavesdropping count after using conference call codes to listen in and record two calls in which Democrats discussed how to fight GOP-controlled redistricting in 2002.