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What did Mother Jones know about alleged McConnell bugging, and when did it know it?

What did Mother Jones know about alleged McConnell bugging, and when did it know it?

David Corn of Mother Jones gained fame and awards for obtaining the secretly recorded fundraising tape in which Mitt Romney made the infamous 47% comment.  That tape was made by someone in the room and already was posted on the internet, but no one had realized how potent the contents were before Corn made it public.

Now Corn has another supposed bombshell, that Mitch McConnell told staffers in a private campaign meeting that Ashley Judd’s mental health problems and religious views could be a campaign issue.

David Corn McConnell Tape banner

Of course, this hardly was a bombshell, as Judd herself wrote about her mental health problems and her general wackiness was widely known.  What would have been a bombshell was if McConnell’s team decided not to use it.

But there’s a bigger problem here.  It appears that the recording may have been illegal because the room was bugged, McConnell campaign alleges it was bugged, seeks FBI investigation:

Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell’s re-election campaign has asked federal authorities to help it identify the source of a recording of private strategy sessions earlier this year involving research into a potential opponent, actress Ashley Judd.

McConnell campaign manager Jesse Benton said Tuesday that the campaign is working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Attorney’s office in Louisville to uncover who recorded a Feb. 2 meeting in Kentucky – attended by McConnell himself — which was published earlier today by the liberal magazine Mother Jones.

“Senator McConnell’s campaign is working with the FBI and has notified the local U.S. Attorney in Louisville, per FBI request, about these recordings,” said McConnell campaign manager Jesse Benton. “Obviously a recording device of some kind was placed in Sen. McConnell’s campaign office without consent. By whom and how that was accomplished will presumably be the subject of a criminal investigation.”

If the offices were bugged, the bugging arguably violated Kentucky’s eavesdropping statute, and worse, persons divulging such information may have violated Kentucky law:

526.060 Divulging illegally obtained information.

(1) A person is guilty of divulging illegally obtained information when he knowingly uses or divulges information obtained through eavesdropping or tampering with private communications or learned in the course of employment with a communications common carrier engaged in transmitting the message.

(2) Divulging illegally obtained information is a Class A misdemeanor.

Federal wiretapping and eavesdropping statutes also are implicated.

There would be interesting First Amendment issues where the subsequent disclosure was by a journalist, and I’m not in a position to opine on that subject at the moment, certainly not before more facts are known.

I suspect that part of the issue may be what Corn and Mother Jones knew, and when they knew it.

If they merely were the recipient of unlawfully obtained information, or if they thought the recording was by a person in the room not a bugging, that might be viewed differently than if they had advance knowledge or knew the evidence was from eavesdropping.  I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt that they did not participate in, encourage, or in any way knowingly intend to benefit from an alleged bugging.

For now, Corn and Mother Jones aren’t talking (via NBC link above):

In a phone interview with NBC News, Mother Jones’ David Corn says he and his publication have “no comment” about any FBI investigation into how he obtained the recording of the McConnell campaign’s strategy session on actress Ashley Judd.

“This story speaks for itself,” Corn said.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out, and what David Corn and Mother Jones knew, and when they knew it.

UpdateEd Morrissey and Ann Althouse (via Instapundit) have more on the topic.

Greg Sargent has this update:

UPDATE: Mother Jones sends over a statement asserting that it did not make the tape. From the statement:

As the story makes clear, we were recently provided the tape by a source who wished to remain anonymous. We were not involved in the making of the tape, but we published a story on the tape due to its obvious newsworthiness. It is our understanding that the tape was not the product of a Watergate-style bugging operation. We cannot comment beyond that.

That doesn’t answer all the questions. It was not “involved in the making of the tape” is not a completely denial of prior knowledge, and that it was not a “Watergate-style bugging operation” is a curious way of putting it — was it some other type of “bugging” whether or not an “operation”?

Update 4-11-2013 — I was right in my suspicions about Mother Jones’ denial, Wow, bombshell in McConnell bugging case.


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A few years ago, I had occasion to explore Federal and Texas anti-wiretap laws…which track rather closely.

ANYBODY who “uses” wire-taped (which included purloined emails in Texas) information in Texas was subject to BOTH criminal and civil liability by statute. That is, for each count, the law specified statutory civil damages.

There were no exceptions in the law, except for law enforcement, IIRC.

    William A. Jacobson in reply to Ragspierre. | April 9, 2013 at 1:17 pm

    A lot of divorce lawyers have gotten in trouble that way.

      Ragspierre in reply to William A. Jacobson. | April 9, 2013 at 1:27 pm

      Yes! There is a lot of stupid assumption on the part of a surprising number of attorneys about the limits of “attorney immunity”! Attorneys are not allowed to break the law! ShaaaAAAAzam…!!!

      It came up in an employment/trade secrets/covenant not to complete case, in may case.

iconotastic | April 9, 2013 at 1:22 pm

Baghdad Jim McDermott had to pay $1 million to Boehner for eavesdropping. Since Mother Jones doesn’t have the kind of influence to sell that a traitor like McDermott has maybe such a fine would put them out of business.

    JohnPomeroy in reply to iconotastic. | April 9, 2013 at 4:14 pm

    Excuse me. That should be REP. Baghdad Jim. He worked awful hard for that title. Anyway, I believe he was ordered by a court to pay the fine but has yet to actually pay it.

David Gerstman | April 9, 2013 at 1:58 pm

Corn undoubtedly supported Obama who ran ads saying that Romney’s “not one of us,” is really not someone who can claim that using someone’s religion as a political weapon is a scandal.

OK I will bite, exactly what religious views does Ashley Judd have? I think we are more likely talking about the equivalent of the color black, i.e. the complete absence of color. She is a proud and loud prog, so religious beliefs dont show up that often with those types…

[…] Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s Kentucky campaign office was bugged, apparently in violation of Kentucky and possibly federal laws, and then the recording from the bugging was released on the far-left Mother Jones website. It was […]

Eric Holder will be “all over” this…(snort)

FreshPondIndians | April 9, 2013 at 4:40 pm

This is intriguing. I think it’s safe to assume one of three things happened. Either:

-Someone broke in, and planted some sort of listening/recording device (which they would’ve retrieved later, since no bugs were found).

-Someone in attendance at the meeting surreptitiously recorded the information.

-A spy microphone

Juba Doobai! | April 9, 2013 at 5:41 pm

Now the media, silent about the Fox reporter and her sources, will be in full throated support of Corn when he lands in jail.

” …a Class A misdemeanor.”

…the OBOZO endless campaign will easily find a stooge willing to take the fall for that minor wrist slap – just to get the publicity and praise from the rest of the libtards (as happened with Romney’s “47%” bugging.)

Paging Bob Woodward …

Put their tit in the federal investigation process wringer and crank!

Mother Jones is getting plenty of frequent flyer miles out of this. Their far-left international socialist agenda seems lost in the fray. Their reckless disregard for reason seems to infect every outlet that parrots their new party-line instructions.

“We cannot comment beyond that,” whines Corn. The difference between cannot and will not seems lost on the self-appointed masters of the proletarian dialectic.

“…we published a story on the tape due to its obvious newsworthiness.” Obvious to whom? Judd’s mental health might be newsworthy if she were running for office, but she’s not. So why did Mother amplify news of her 42 day stay in a mental hospital? The Kentucky Senator (reportedly) found the subject worthy of consideration behind closed doors.

Mother and her minions at CNN seem to imply that health is not a campaign issue. David Letterman and one former Whitehouse physician, along with Huffington Post, ABC News and a long list of other media outlets consider Chris Christie’s weight worthy of public discussion. We would not need to look far to find Mother’s favorite far left extremist groups putting forth arm-chair diagnoses of leaders with whom they disagree. Perhaps the most prominent is the rampant left-handed pop-pscyhotherapy of George Bush, who in the minds of so many far leftists was motivated to invade Iraq by some familial issue related to his father.

When does mental health become a campaign issue? Would psychosis and schizophrenia be valid campaign issues? It’s odd the left wants to take guns from anyone who has been hospitalized for mental health issues, but implies we the people should not discuss those same concerns when we consider such people as potential leaders who will direct our collective state use of firearms in military and police contexts. Are we also not to discuss the implications of psychotropic medications dispensed to people diagnosed with these conditions – medications labeled with warnings about dangerous, life-threatening side effects?

[…] Legal Insurrection finds it interesting: […]

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