Democratic SuperPAC Behind McConnell Recording
A radio station in Kentucky is reporting that a Democratic SuperPAC that has been going after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was behind the recording of a meeting between the Senator and his political advisers that surfaced earlier this week:
A secret recording of a campaign strategy session between U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell and his advisors was taped by leaders of the Progress Kentucky super PAC, says a longtime local Democratic operative.
Mother Jones Magazine released the tape this week. The meeting itself took place on Feb. 2.
Jacob Conway, who is on the executive committee of the Jefferson County Democratic Party, says that day, Shawn Reilly and Curtis Morrison, who founded and volunteered for Progress Kentucky, respectively, bragged to him about how they recorded the meeting.
Conway says neither the local nor the state Democratic party had any part in the incident.
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.”
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.
Had this meeting been recorded by one of the participants, there would have been no legal liability because both Kentucky and Federal law on the issue follow a “one person consent” rule that makes it legal to record a conversation as long as one of the participants consented to the recording. In this case, the men who made the recording, however, face the possibility of criminal liability:
It’s unclear why Reilly and Morrison held onto the tape for so long. Kentucky law says it is a felony ”to overhear, record amplify or transmit any part of a wire or oral communication of others without the consent of at least one party thereto by means of any electric, mechanical or other device.”
But if the conversation was audible from a hallway, it’s disputable whether recording qualifies as eavesdropping.
Without reviewing the Kentucky law, it strikes me that the fact that they recorded it via the vent at the bottom of the door seems to me to be an important fact. If they were merely standing outside the door and were able to record an audible conversation without that extra step, it would be a different story. If I were these men, I’d be talking to a lawyer right now.