Ashley Judd: Did a Democratic Super PAC Really Bug Mitch McConnell's Office?

On April 9, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) asked the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office to investigate how Mother Jones magazine received a recording of a February strategy session. McConnell made the accusation that a Kentucky Democratic Party Super PAC bugged his campaign office.

On the morning of April 9, the liberal magazine Mother Jones published an audio recording of McConnell staffers discussing opposition tactics that they could use against actress Ashley Judd after she considered running as the Democratic candidate in the 2014 Senate race.

This strategy conversation occurred on February 2, where McConnell and his aides talked about different ways to defeat her and various attacks on her past. They refer to her as "emotionally unbalanced" due to her history of depression, and justify this allegation as "it’s been documented."

One person states, "She’s clearly ... emotionally unbalanced. 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."

It is assumed that the Jesse referenced in that conversation is McConnell campaign manager, Jesse Benton. In a statement following the accusation, Benton said, "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 Senator McConnell’s campaign office without consent."

While the McConnell office has not provided any direct evidence that the recording and its subsequent leak were caused by the use of an illegal bug, Benton further claimed, "by whom and how that was accomplished presumably will be the subject of a criminal investigation."

When Judd's team found out about the video and the potential repercussions, a spokesperson commented, "this is yet another example of the politics of personal destruction that embody Mitch McConnell and are pervasive in Washington, D.C." He further noted, "we expected nothing less from Mitch McConnell and his camp than to take a personal struggle such as depression … and turn it into a laughing matter."

McConnell accepts responsibility for the meeting and the discussion held between himself and his aides. His campaign offices were inspected for a bug when news broke out, but one was not found. His campaign created a fundraiser that announces: "Breaking: Liberals wiretap McConnell office." This fundraiser is "against the liberal media’s illegal and underhanded tactics."

According to POLITICO, McConnell’s 2014 campaign was expected "to be one of the nastiest, closest watched, and most expensive races in the country. The senator’s approval ratings have been down, making him appear vulnerable." It will be interesting to see what comes of this allegation, and what consequences American politics will face in the future.