On Tuesday, Mother Jones “broke” audio of a meeting of Sen. Mitch McConnell’s campaign aides discussing possible campaign messages against potential opponent Ashley Judd. It was a small glimpse inside the kind of conversations that have happened in every campaign office since the dawn of politics. McConnell is a Republican, however, so the media gave the story blanket coverage. On Thursday, lefty-watchdog group CREW asked the FBI to investigate the matter. The twist is that CREW thinks McConnell should be investigated, not the ones who made the illegal recording.
CREW’s complaint asks whether McConnell’s office used any Senate staff to compile research on Judd, while they were on government time. That would be an illegal use of government resources for political work. CREW’s complaint seems to stem from a “mistake” in Mother Jones’ original transcript of the audio. From their original story:
Presenter: So I’ll just preface my comments that this reflects the work of a lot of folks: Josh, Jesse, Phil Maxson, a lot of LAs, thank them three times, so this is a compilation of work, all the way through.
What the tape actually says is this:
Presenter: So I just preface my comments that this reflects the work of a lot of folks: Josh, Jesse, Phil Maxson, a lot of LAs, in their free time, so this is a compilation of work, all the way through.
“Thank them three times” doesn’t even make sense, really. The more plausible “in their free time” would clear the staffers of any alleged wrongdoing. CREW’s complaint to the FBI is clearly a trumped up issue designed to generate negative headlines for McConnell. Its complaint said nothing about the potentially illegal recording of the campaign meeting.
It will be interesting, however, to see how CREW handles the news that a prominent local Democrat official has fingered Progress Kentucky, a leftist advocacy group, as being behind the allegedly illegal recording of the McConnell meeting. Recording a conversation to which one is not a party and distributing it are serious crimes.
Now that plausible suspects for the illegal action have been identified, CREW may want to amend their complaint to the FBI. The Bureau ought to focus investigations on alleged real crimes, rather than trumped-up political games.