While Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has been playing “victim” all week and spinning the release of an audio recording from a Feb. 2 meeting between him and his aides debating the use of smear tactics against actress Ashley Judd’s mental health, views on religion and attitudes about family while she was debating a Kentucky Senate run now the tables have tuned and McConnell and his staff may very well be investigated over the incident.
The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a nonprofit government watchdog group, has asked the Senate ethics committee and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to probe whether aides and McConnell improperly conducted political opposition research on federal government time and property.
McConnell can be heard on the recording telling his campaign aides they are in “the Whac-A-Mole period of the campaign,” saying to hit anybody who sticks their head up.
One aide can be heard describing Judd as “clearly … emotionally unbalanced.” with the aide leading the strategy meeting stating that Judd “views [traditional Christianity] as sort of a vestige of patriarchy” and said she is “anti-sort-of-traditional American family.”
Senate ethics rules forbid legislative assistants and other Senate employees from participating in political activities on government time.
The FBI is currently investigating how the tape of the McConnell was made. But in the past few days it has come to light that two men Curtis Morrison and Shawn Reilly from the small progressive Democratic PAC Progress Kentucky recorded and leaked the taped. But more shockingly is that they and were exposed by Jacob Conway, a Democratic county official who says that the duo told him about the recording shortly after they made it. Said Conway “I’m an honest person,” Conway said. “If you’re going to ask me an honest question, I’m going to give you an honest answer.”
What Conway did not say is that the current Kentucky Democratic party looks at Morrison and Reilly as annoyances. Said veteran in-state Democratic strategist Jimmy Cauley. “They’re pretty much out there on the fringe of anything I know of as the Kentucky Democratic organization.” , which it turns out is very easy in a state where most of the Democrats are just as conservative as their Republican opponents. Recently the Democrat-controlled House, voted 82-7 to pass House Bill 279, dubbed the Religious Freedom Bill, that allows Kentucky organizations and individuals carte blanche to ignore anti-LGBT discrimination laws and statutes that they perceive as violations of their religious rights.
Said Melanie Sloan, CREW’s executive director believes that the FBI should expand its probe. “McConnell should welcome a review of the tape,” she says. “If McConnell thought it was so important for the FBI to investigate, the FBI should investigate everything about the incident. I think that’s hard to argue against. The tape certainly gives you probable cause to believe something improper occurred. It clearly merits investigation.”
A spokesman for Judd gave the following statement to Us Weekly:
“This is yet another example of the politics of personal destruction that embody Mitch McConnell and are pervasive in Washington, D.C. We expected nothing less from Mitch McConnell and his camp than to take a personal struggle such as depression, which many Americans cope with on a daily basis, and turn it into a laughing matter. Every day it becomes clearer how much we need change in Washington from this kind of rhetoric and actions.”