It appears that Kentucky’s US Senate race will continue to be filled with recordings of off-the-record conversations that were not intended for public consumption.
First was the recording of a supposedly private conversation between Senator Mitch McConnell and close advisers at his campaign headquarters in April of last year, in which they discussed using their opposition research against actress Ashley Judd, who was considering a Senate run. The culprits, a hapless Democratic PAC opposed to McConnell, anonymously leaked the recording to Mother Jones, before being outed by WFPL in Louisville. McConnell’s campaign referred to this as “Gestapo tactics,” and tried to imply that Alison Lundergan Grimes or even President Obama had put them up to it.
Last fall, a hot mic caught McConnell and Senator Rand Paul discussing the government shutdown in between television interviews, with Paul telling McConnell, “I think we can win this.”
Two weeks ago it was Alison Lundergan Grimes’ turn to be caught on audio at a private DC fundraiser with Senate majority leader Harry Reid. Weeks earlier, Grimes vowed to use the occasion to tell Reid that she is strongly opposed to new EPA regulations to cut carbon emissions from power plants, which she says will hurt Kentuckians. However, an audio recording of the speech was later anonymously leaked to Politico, revealing that she did not mention coal at all, which McConnell’s campaign claimed was Grimes breaking a promise and further evidence that she will be beholden to Democratic leaders who aren’t looking out for coal. Grimes’s campaign said she did privately relay that message to Reid before the fundraiser, and the entire kerfuffle was much ado about nothing. Kentucky Opportunity Coalition, a Super PAC working to elect McConnell, came out with a new TV ad today hitting Grimes over the audio from the fundraiser, calling her “two-faced.”
While the Politico piece described the anonymous recorder of the audio as a “source” who is “a Washington consultant,” a Democratic operative who attended the fundraiser tells me that all available evidence points to Richard Hohlt, a super-insider DC consultant and lobbyist who worked for three Republican presidents and is a huge Republican donor—and a personal friend of McConnell.