(LOUISVILLE, Ky.) — The secret recording of a Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell campaign strategy session was allegedly made by two members of Democratic super PAC Progress Kentucky, a longtime Democratic operative charged Thursday.
Jacob Conway, who is on the executive committee of the Jefferson County Democratic Party in Kentucky, told ABC News in an interview that Shawn Reilly and Curtis Morrison admitted to him that they made the tape on Feb. 2. Conway said one of the men held the elevator while the other stood by the door of McConnell’s office and recorded the conversation.
Neither Reilly nor Morrison returned calls and emails for comment. Calls and messages to Progress Kentucky also were not returned.
McConnell’s campaign manager, Jesse Benton, called the accusation against Progress Kentucky “very disturbing.”
“At this point, we understand that the FBI is immersed in an intensive criminal investigation and must defer any further comment to them,” Benton said in a statement.
Mary Trotman, spokeswoman for the Louisville office of the FBI, said, “We are not making any further statement. It’s a pending matter, which is our policy.”
In the secretly recorded strategy session, McConnell and his aides could be heard discussing the best way to blunt a possible challenge by Democrat Ashley Judd would be to highlight her history of depression, something Judd has written about in her own autobiography. Judd later opted not to run, but the tape of the strategy session was leaked to Mother Jones magazine and released this week.
Conway claimed in an interview with ABC News that Reilly and Morrison told him that they went to McConnell’s office three hours after a campaign grand opening, but doesn’t believe they went inside and that they did not attend the event.
“They overheard the conversation and recorded it,” Conway said.
McConnell campaign manager Jesse Benton has said the door was closed and locked.
Conway said one of the men called him after they recorded the meeting and told him about it. Later that night Conway said he ran into the other person allegedly involved in the taping and that man repeated the story about the recording. Conway says he can’t recall which of the two men called him first.
Conway says the FBI has not contacted him yet, and he says he came out with the story to “protect” the state and local party and believes if they are tied with the scandal it could hurt the party.
“We are the only Southern state that has a Democratic-controlled statehouse,” Conway said. “Mitch McConnell wants to destroy our party and take over the state house.”
Conway, 29, says he has “no malice” toward Progress Kentucky and he “wasn’t trying to hurt anybody,” but when asked if they had been in touch with him since, he quipped, “Would you talk to me if you were them?”
Mother Jones’ David Corn, who obtained the tape, told ABC News he couldn’t “comment on confidential sources.”
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Dylan Byers, CNN
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Ariane de Vogue and Laura Jarrett, CNN