Ethics and Denials Mark Latest Twist in McConnell Taping Controversy

Friday, 12 Apr 2013 03:01 PM

By Kenneth Hanner

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The controversy over the alleged secret taping of a campaign strategy session for Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell intensified Thursday, as a liberal activist denied wrongdoing and a congressional watchdog group filed an ethics complaint against McConnell.

According to The Hill, Progress Kentucky Executive Director Shawn Reilly denied committing an illegal act for his role in the taping of a strategy meeting between the Senate Republican leaders and his top aides about how to destroy the potential candidacy of Hollywood actress Ashley Judd. Judd, a Democrat, had been considering a challenge to the GOP senator's 2014 re-election campaign.

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The tape was leaked to Mother Jones, a progressive magazine, and McConnell asked the FBI to investigate whether his campaign meeting with aides had been "bugged."

Attorney Annie O’Connell said her client was cooperating with the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s office. He is also working with federal investigators to help locate his associate, Curtis Morrison, the Hill reported.

“Our position, our statement, is that Mr. Reilly is innocent of any criminal wrongdoing. He is at most a witness, not a suspect,” O’Connell said.

Meanwhile, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics (CREW) filed a complaint with the Senate Ethics Committee Thursday, saying that comments made on the tape by McConnell should be investigated to discover whether he illegally used his congressional staff to work on his re-election campaign.

“Using taxpayer-funded resources to pay staffers to dig up dirt on political opponents isn’t just an ethics violation, it’s a federal crime,” CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan, told the Hill. “The FBI is investigating the recording. A thorough and fair investigation necessitates the bureau also inquire into whether Sen. McConnell himself violated the law.”

McConnell and his aides were heard discussing avenues of attack against Judd, including whether to make an issue out of her mental health and views on religion.




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