FRANKFORT — The FBI has been asked to look into whether Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell's campaign headquarters was bugged after a recording of a private campaign meeting surfaced in which the senator and aides discussed ways to question the mental health of a potential opponent, actress Ashley Judd.
Mother Jones magazine published the recording of the February meeting in which McConnell aides discussed opposition research into potential Democratic challengers. Aides talked and laughed on the recording about Judd's political positions, religious beliefs and past bouts of depression. She later decided not to run.
"We've always said the left would stop at nothing to attack Senator McConnell, but Watergate-style tactics to bug campaign headquarters are above and beyond," said McConnell campaign manager Jesse Benton said in a statement Tuesday. "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. Obviously a recording device of some kind was placed in Sen. McConnell's campaign office without consent. By whom and how that was accomplished presumably will be the subject of a criminal investigation."
Stephanie Collins, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney in Louisville, declined to comment about the issue. The FBI in Louisville didn't immediately return a phone call, nor did the magazine. The magazine reported that the recording was provided last week by a source who requested anonymity.
On the recording posted on Mother Jones' website, McConnell began the meeting by telling aides the campaign had entered "the Whac-A-Mole period" and explained that means "when anybody sticks their head up, do them out."
Mother Jones said the aides huddled on Feb. 2 in a private meeting to discuss potential Democratic opponents, including Judd and Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes. Grimes, a rising star within the Kentucky Democratic Party, hasn't ruled herself out as a challenger.