A recording of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell meeting with his campaign staff on February 2 was released to David Corn at Mother Jones. Corn was last seen bringing us Mitt Romney’s meditations on the “47 percent.” Corn has already turned that scoop into a pamphlet-length ebook titled, logically enough, 47 Percent. For the Democrats, it was 100 percent gold.
This time around, Corn fetched fool’s gold and seemed not to notice the difference. He labored mightily to depict the proceedings on the McConnell recording as a scandal. In the meeting, Senator McConnell and his staff can be heard committing politics, exploring weaknesses in the possible candidacy of Ashley Judd. Corn presented the meeting as something of a scandal: “McConnell and aides weighed using Judd’s mental health and religion as political ammo.”
Why, yes, the McConnell team had gone so far as to comb through Judd’s memoir, All That Is Bitter & Sweet, looking for the good stuff and laughing out loud. How low can they go? Corn’s heroes would never do anything like that!
In unreleased parts of the recording, McConnell’s team may even have noted that, unlike her mother and sister, Judd can’t sing a note! They may have been heard compiling reviews indicating that since 1999’s Double Jeopardy Judd’s films have stunk!
Senator McConnell deftly directed attention to the question of who had recorded the meeting. He decried the Nixonian tactics of his political opponents and called in the FBI to investigate.
The FBI is making progress. In the latest installment of the saga, Louisville public radio station WFPL reports that the McConnell meeting had been taped by leaders Shawn Reilly and Curtis Morrison of the Progress Kentucky super PAC, according to a longtime local Democratic principal who heard them bragging about their hijinks. The Democrat was apparently seeking to shield the party from the impact of the denouement. According to the WFPL report:
On Feb. 2, McConnell opened his campaign headquarters in the Watterson Office Park in Louisville and invited trusted GOP activists and select media outlets to an open house. The event lasted roughly two hours. Afterward, McConnell and several campaign advisors held a strategy session in an office meeting room.
Morrison and Reilly did not attend the 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.
Sources tell WFPL the portion of the meeting that was recorded came at the end of the strategy session.
Conway is reportedly talking to the FBI. Morrison is blaming Reilly for the recording. Previously jubilant Kentucky Democrats are running for cover.
What about David Corn? As of update 4 to his post, Corn is still awaiting Senator McConnell’s response to the substance of Corn’s report. How does the song go? “Mama, He’s Crazy”! I think it can safely be said without laughing that Senator McConnell regrets he won’t be facing Ms. Judd in the elections of 2014.
James Taranto has been following the affair on Twitter and derives an edifying judgment of public policy: “So post-Watergate ‘reforms’ led to the creation of super PACs, which are now committing Watergate-like crimes. Brilliant.”