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Report: Democrat Says Liberal Kentucky SuperPAC Behind McConnell Recording

A Democrat on the committee of the Jefferson County (Kentucky) Democratic Party says a liberal SuperPAC was responsible for surreptitiously recording a strategy session between Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and some of his campaign aides.

As Mark reported on Tuesday, a McConnell aide is heard saying that actress Ashley Judd, who mulled a run against McConnell, was "emotionally unbalanced."

Once the recording became public, McConnell's campaign asked the FBI to investigate the taping, saying his opponents were engaging in "Watergate-era tactics."

NPR member station WFPL reports that Jacob Conway told them the founders of Progress Kentucky, Shawn Riley and Curtis Morrison, bragged about how they made the recording.

WFPL reports:

"Morrison and Reilly did not attend the [McConnell] open house, but they told Conway they arrived later and were able to hear the meeting from the hallway.

"'They were in the hallway after the, I guess after the celebration and hoopla ended, apparently these people broke for lunch and had a strategy meeting, which is, in every campaign I've been affiliated with, makes perfect sense,' says Conway. 'One of them held the elevator, the other one did the recording and they left. That was what they told to me from them directly.'

"Other sources have corroborated this series of events to WFPL. The meeting room door is next to the elevators on that floor. McConnell campaign manager Jesse Benton has told multiple media outlets the door was shut and locked on Feb. 2. But the door has a vent at the bottom and a large gap underneath.

"'Apparently the gentlemen overheard the conversation and decided to record it with a phone or recording device they had in their pocket. Could've been an iPhone, could've been a Flip camera or something like that,' Conway say."

Reilly and Conway have not commented on the allegations. If you remember Progress Kentucky came under fire, when it unleashed controversial tweets attacking McConnell's wife, former Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao. The attacks focused on Chao's race.

NBC News reports that in a separate development, Progress Kentucky's treasurer Douglas L. Davis resigned following Mother Jones' publication of the audio.

NBC says Davis would not comment on why he left.

"At this time based on advice of both friends and counsel, I will be not be making a public statement available until everything has been reviewed by an attorney at this time," Davis told NBC News. "I have resigned my position as treasurer and did not and do not condone any allegations of illegal activity that might have taken place."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is an international correspondent for NPR. He was named NPR's Mexico City correspondent in 2022. Before that, he was based in Cape Town, South Africa.
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