Liberal Kentucky group named in leak of Sen. Mitch McConnell conversation

A Kentucky Democrat said Thursday that two activists connected to a local political group were responsible for recording a private conversation between Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and his senior campaign staff.

The recording was disclosed this week by Mother Jones magazine, prompting McConnell to request an FBI investigation and accuse liberals of bugging his office.

Jacob Conway, a Democrat active in Louisville politics, told NPR affiliate WFPL that two staff members with Progress Kentucky, a small liberal group, told him that they made the recording after entering McConnell’s campaign headquarters on the day of an open house in February.

“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,” Conway said. “One of them held the elevator, the other one did the recording, and they left.”

He said he came forward because he did not want the state or local Democratic Party to be blamed for the recording.

It’s the second time since its formation in December that Progress Kentucky has been at the center of a national controversy.

A spokesman, Curtis Morrison, quit this year after the super PAC’s Twitter account linked to racially charged comments about McConnell’s Chinese American wife.

Morrison, who did not respond to requests for comment, was one of the two people named by Conway as being involved in the recording. The other activist, Shawn Reilly, is cooperating with authorities, his attorney said.

“Our client is at most a witness to potential criminal activity,” said Reilly’s attorney, Ted Shouse. “We have cooperated with the FBI since the tape was released to the public on Mother Jones, and we have provided information and support that we believe is assisting them.”

On the tape, McConnell’s campaign staff members discuss using comments made by actress Ashley Judd about her faith and her mental health against her. Judd has since decided not to run for Senate.

McConnell campaign spokesman Jesse Benton called the latest revelations “disturbing” but declined to comment further because of the FBI investigation.

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