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McConnell Says Foes Bugged His Campaign Headquarters

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U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell
U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, called the 12-minute audio clip the work of “left wing” foes. Photographer: T.J. Kirkpatrick/Getty Images

April 10 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell accused political opponents of bugging his campaign headquarters after a recording of a private meeting with his aides was posted on Mother Jones magazine’s website.

During the Feb. 2 strategy session in Louisville, the Kentucky Republican and his aides discussed ways to attack potential Democratic adversaries in the 2014 campaign, including actress Ashley Judd, according to the audio recording. Judd said last month she wouldn’t challenge McConnell.

The five-term senator yesterday called the 12-minute clip the work of “left wing” foes. The Federal Bureau of Investigation is examining the lawmaker’s allegations, according to the New York Times. Mother Jones said in a statement that it was “not involved in the making of the tape” and that it understood it wasn’t from a microphone planted in the office.

“They were bugging our headquarters -- quite a Nixonian move,” McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, told reporters yesterday when asked about the recording. “This is what you get from the political left in America, these days.”

The clip was provided to Mother Jones by a person who asked not to be identified, according to the magazine. On the recording, McConnell aides discuss ways to target Judd, including her support of President Barack Obama, same-sex marriage and abortion rights. They also talked about using Judd’s past battles with depression, acknowledged in her 2011 memoir, according to the audio.

“This is the Whac-A-Mole period of the campaign,” McConnell, 71, said during the meeting, according to the audio. “When anybody sticks their head up, do them out.”

Romney Remarks

Mother Jones yesterday defended posting the clip and reporting on what was said on it. Its reporter, David Corn, also broke a 2012 story about Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney saying at a private fundraiser that 47 percent of Americans would vote to re-elect Obama because they rely on handouts, don’t pay income taxes and consider themselves to be “victims.” That story also used a surreptitious recording.

Cara Tripicchio, a spokeswoman for Judd, criticized the McConnell campaign for considering making her battle with depression a campaign issue, according to the Associated Press.

“This is yet another example of the politics of personal destruction,” Tripicchio said in a statement, according to the news service. “We expected nothing less from Mitch McConnell and his camp than to take a personal struggle such as depression, which many Americans cope with on a daily basis, and turn it into a laughing matter.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Michael Shepard in Washington at mshepard7@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jodi Schneider at jschneider50@bloomberg.net.

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