The big mystery surrounding Mother Jones’s secret recording of a strategy meeting for Mitch McConnell’s Senate campaign — in which some kind of mean but not totally shocking things were said about erstwhile potential challenger Ashley Judd — is where it came from. McConnell has sought the help of the FBI and accused “the left” of a Watergate-style bugging operation, while Mother Jones has countered that “the tape was not the product of a Watergate-style bugging operation.” Now a Democratic official in Kentucky, Jacob Conway, says the recording was made by the liberal super PAC Progress Kentucky. But they didn’t bug the conversation from inside the room: They overheard it from the hallway.
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 says.
Sneaky? Certainly. Illegal? Unclear.
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.
One would think that Progress Kentucky looked into the legality of the tape and determined it was kosher before leaking it to Mother Jones. Since the tape’s content really wasn’t all that damning, and Judd isn’t even running against McConnell anymore, it doesn’t seem like leaking it would be worth any criminal repercussions.
As for Conway, he tells Fox News that he came forward with the information “to protect the Democratic party,” whose reputation and efforts in the state, he felt, could be maligned by the scandal. Conway is probably not going to be told many secrets for a while.