A secret audio recording of Senator Mitch McConnell’s re-election campaign reveals the Kentucky Republican’s aides intended to target actress Ashley Judd’s mental health and religious beliefs among other issues.
The news magazine Mother Jones obtained audio of a private meeting between McConnell and aides where much of the conversation focused on potential Democratic opponents.
In a 2011 memoir, “All That is Bitter and Sweet” Judd recounted she had checked into rehab for depression as an adult and once considered suicide as a child.
The leaked tapes reveal Judd’s bouts with depression were considered fair game by the McConnell campaign.
“This sounds extreme, but she is emotionally unbalanced,” an unknown McConnell aide says on the recording. “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.”
Asked about the leak, McConnell campaign manager Jesse Benton would not address if he were the “Jesse” mentioned in the recordings, but did send a statement to WFPL.
“It is Watergate-style bugging,” he says. “We always knew the far left would stop at nothing to attack Sen. McConnell, but even I am shocked by these Nixonian tactics.”
Besides focusing on Judd’s personal background and policy positions, McConnell aides also discussed how to attack Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes.
From Mother Jones:
The fellow in charge of the meeting referred to a Freedom of Information Act request filed “through a third party” that aimed to uncover damaging information about her actions in government, and he noted, “The best hit we have on her is her blatantly endorsing the 2008 Democratic national platform.”
He also claimed “she definitely has a very sort of self-centered, sort of egotistical aspect.” His evidence? Grimes “frequently” refers to herself in the third person. And to make this point, he played a recording in which Grimes noted she had made the last name of her in-laws “popular” when she married into their family. He seemed to be working with scraps. As of this meeting, the McConnell squad had not dug up much on Grimes.
Political observers will note the audio recording was obtained by reporter David Corn, who was the first to uncover the infamous “47 percent” recording of former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney criticizing President Barack Obama’s supporters.
Two sources close to the McConnell campaign tell WFPL the Federal Bureau of Investigations is meeting with campaign officials on Tuesday. The FBI is being asked to look at how Mother Jones obtained a recording of the private meeting and whether it classifies as eavesdropping.
Under state law, eavesdropping is defined when a person intentionally uses any device to listen in on a meeting without consent. It is considered a class D felony.
Team Mitch confirms they are pursuing criminal charges and federal authorities are 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 presumably will be the subject of a criminal investigation.”