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View Diary: KY-Sen: Bruce Lunsford (D) Recalls Being Secretly Recorded By McConnell's (R) Campaign Team In 2008 (18 comments)

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  •  So many problems with what you are saying. (2+ / 0-)
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    Shippo1776, VClib

    1.  There is a significant legal difference between what McConnell's campaign did, and what Progress KY did.  Kentucky law says you can't tape a conversation without the consent of at least one party to the conversation.  If two people are at a forum and one of them tapes it, that's the consent of one party -- legal.  In addition, an open speech in front of an audience is not a conversation that's private.  It's the reason there's a HUGE legal difference between taping Romney's 47% speech (legal) and taping a private conversation without the consent of any party to that conversation by standing outside a locked door on private property (a campaign office).

    2.  I have no idea why that one source says that taping a private conversation by standing outside of a locked door with a taping device may not be illegal.  It seems to me that it's pretty clearly illegal, but I will defer to the authorities on that.  But nobody has made clear to me why they think it does not present a problem under Kentucky law.  There may well even be a violation of federal law.  See pdf here.

    3.  I have no idea why anybody thinks that this taping of a private conversation between Sen. McConnell and aids at his campaign headquarters on a Saturday.  There's only an ethics violation if Sen. McConnell uses his Senate office for campaigning, or if his Senate aids do campaign work while they putting down on their timesheets that they are working for the taxpayers.  

    4.  The one thing you correctly reported are the poll numbers, which is why Democrats have put Sen. McConnell high on their priority list.  

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      Why isn't the above the issue?

      •  READ THE LAW. There's no problem as long as (2+ / 0-)
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        VClib, nextstep

        (1) they don't use government property, and instead use campaign property; and (2) they do it on their own time, not while they are billing the federal government for their time.  

        This was (1) at McConnell's campaign office; (2) on a Saturday.  

        See this from the Senate website:

        Subject to the restriction on handling federal campaign funds (see link below on “Political Fund Designees”), Senate employees are free to engage in campaign activity, as volunteers or for pay, provided they do so on their own time, outside of Senate space, and without using Senate resources.  Staff may not be required to do campaign work as a condition of Senate employment.  Because Senate pay should be commensurate with Senate duties performed, when an employee intends to spend additional time on campaign activities beyond regular working hours and any accrued annual leave, a Senator should either reduce the salary of or remove the employee from the Senate payroll, as appropriate.  Staff must work at least one full day a week in the Senate office to continue to receive Senate pay and benefits.  Members and staff are encouraged to contact the Committee regarding specific proposed official/campaign work arrangements.

        Anyone earning a Senate rate of pay in excess of $119,554 (CY 2013) may not earn more than $26,955 (CY 2013) from all combined outside sources, including campaign work.

        Please explain how Senate employees who were engaging in a meeting on their own time (this was on a Saturday -- they can even work during the week if they are not taking Senate pay for those hours) not at a Senate office (but at a campaign headquarters) and without using Senate resources (like Senate office computers) violates that rule.

        This kind of thing is exactly what the rule permits.   And it's pretty much what every Senator -- Democrats included -- does.  

      •  Darly - because it's allowed and routine (1+ / 0-)
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        All Senate staffs engage in campaign activity, subject to specific rules. See coffeetalk's comment which includes the rules.

        "let's talk about that"

        by VClib on Sun Apr 14, 2013 at 08:30:30 AM PDT

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    •  Has it been confirmed that Progress KY did the (0+ / 0-)

      taping?  Have the two people, Shawn Reilly and Curtis Morrison, admitted to it?

      Jacob Conway has walked back his claim that they bragged about it to him.  I'm a little confused as I haven't been closely following the recent details of this story.

      "Evil is a lack of empathy, a total incapacity to feel with their fellow man." - Capt. Gilbert,Psychiatrist, at the end of Nuremberg trials.

      by 417els on Sun Apr 14, 2013 at 07:32:32 AM PDT

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      •  Reilly indicates that Morrison did it (1+ / 0-)
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        and that Reilly was "at most, a witness to Mr. Morrison's criminal activity."  See, for example, here.

        •  Reilly is head of Progress Kentucky (1+ / 0-)
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          Morrison was just a volunteer. And Morrison was NOT the one who sent out the "racist" tweet several months ago. That was done by another volunteer.

          Furthermore, Morrison was not involved with Progress Kentucky for the past few months... he resigned back in February.

          And Morrison is a journalist... was a journalist... he got fired from his alt-weekly job... I would think he should have some protection for his professional line of work. Of course, the al-weekly folks fired him so they could get out of the line of fire and not provide a support system to Morrison's journalism. By many accounts Morrison is a nice guy, but a loose gun. Too politically active. And, from my readings, he's an idealistic chump.

          Everyone is abandoning him. That is sad.

          But, Reilly is ultimately the one in charge and some of the responsibility for any fallout should fall on his shoulders.

          A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit.

          by bronte17 on Sun Apr 14, 2013 at 09:51:58 AM PDT

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      •  Jacob Conway is an idiot and no friend of (1+ / 0-)
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        He went on Fox News with Megan Kelly to blow the bullshit around.

        Total idiot. And total audacity to presume that he was "saving" the Democratic Party by snitching.

        A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit.

        by bronte17 on Sun Apr 14, 2013 at 10:02:03 AM PDT

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        •  Ah, yes. To save the Democrats. So he's the one. (0+ / 0-)

          To this outsider, it sounds like a lot of puzzle pieces are still missing over there in KY.

          Conway seems to have his own stench, along with the entire McConnell compost pile.

          "Evil is a lack of empathy, a total incapacity to feel with their fellow man." - Capt. Gilbert,Psychiatrist, at the end of Nuremberg trials.

          by 417els on Sun Apr 14, 2013 at 02:06:17 PM PDT

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          •  It's a complex puzzle and I'm not sure whether (0+ / 0-)

            all the pieces fit nice and tidy even if you could make them.

            It really does appear that most of the players in this drama are in it for themselves. Reilly is a wanna-be player (probably for the big bucks flowing into a SuperPAC). Conway got on the holier-than-thou soapbox and makes it worse and worse for the Democratic Party that he supposedly champions.

            Reilly is a "nice Catholic boy" and he's a former Republican... kind of a quasi teabagger-leaning financial analyst (who possibly quit his job to start up and manage this supposed SuperPAC). Progress Kentucky is his baby.

            Morrison was a volunteer with them. He did NOT send the tweet pertaining to Elaine Chao and her wealthy Chinese father and all the donations to Mitch's campaigns. That was done by another volunteer. But, Morrison was the "spokesperson" for Progress Kentucky and he wouldn't back down to apologize when pressure was applied over the tone of the tweet.

            And he was a journalist when he (supposedly) recorded the voices coming out of that huge gaping hole in the door that he walked by. Guess he could have kept on walking, but hearing the ugliness that came out and being a journalist.... he stopped and took notes.

            Morrison quit ProgKy back in February. He's broke and unemployed and now in hot water up to his ears... because of his passion and earnestness. A chump is a chump though.

            A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit.

            by bronte17 on Sun Apr 14, 2013 at 03:15:59 PM PDT

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    •  CREW sure thinks this was illegal... (2+ / 0-)
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      bobatkinson, peacestpete

      and I'm not talking about the recording, either. As poopdogcomedy points out, CREW has filed a complaint with the FBI, based on the idea gleaned from the recording that McConnell's staff may well have conducted campaign business on the taxpayer's dime, which is not simply an ethics violation. It is, as the diarist rightly points out, a Federal crime, specifically a violation of U.S.C. 18 § 641 and U.S.C. 18 § 1341. These two statutes combined do, in fact, bar congressional staff from campaign activity on the public dime. The CREW report also points out that since there is no record whatsoever of any of the staffers mentioned in the tape being paid by McConnell's campaign, then the question arises about how exactly their time (and expenses, even more importantly, since those can't be "volunteered" and must be counted as campaign expenses if McConnell's campaign wishes to avoid violating other Federal laws on that subject) was paid for.

      So no, if what CREW's complaint alleges is correct, then McConnell (or at least his campaign staff) violated Federal law, not merely Senate ethics rules (though in that case, they did violate those as well.)

      The case for the recording being illegal is also not so cut-and-dried as you imply. It may turn out that it is, but there are some questions as to how the law might apply in this case. The problem with your reading of the applicable law is that the hallway from which the conversation was overheard is technically public space (i.e., it belongs to the building itself, not to McConnell's campaign offices) and overhearing or even recording a conversation in a public space is not covered by the statute according to long legal precedent in Kentucky. So there certainly is a question about whether the recording is illegal or not.

      While you're right that the recording of Lunsford was legal (though, as Lunsford himself pointed out, it did violate the rules of the forum that McConnell himself had agreed to) and not quite the same thing as the Progress Kentucky recording, the difference is not so extreme as you're portraying it, either. Both are a form of the old "dirty tricks" kind of campaigning that we'd all like to see go away but likely never will (humans being humans and politicians being, well...politicians.) Both are ethically challenged but not necessarily illegal, especially since the Lunsford recording device really had no other purpose but to catch remarks from Lunsford that were not made for the public (i.e., remarks made off-mike that would not be on the official recordings of the event.) The difference lies more in context than in degree, as you contend, and doesn't give McConnell nearly as much cover for his own activities as you imply.

      Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory, tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat. Sun Tzu The Art of War

      by Stwriley on Sun Apr 14, 2013 at 08:52:09 AM PDT

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    •  The door had a huge hole under it and a large vent (2+ / 0-)

      anyone with any sense would never expect to have any modicum of privacy in that capacity. It's illusionary to presume otherwise.

      You may as well put up paper walls... they would probably provide better privacy.

      It's kind of like undressing in front of an open window and expecting neighbors not to look. There is no expectation of privacy when you do stupid things like that.

      And why the hell would a campaign locate their meeting office beside this open megaphone door? Oh yeah... because it was a Senator's office and not a campaign office. But, they get upset because their campaign smut was broadcast out through their megaphone door to anyone walking by.

      If you are going to have a big gaping open hole in your privacy and yet you expect people in the public hallway to ignore your ugly insulting speech that floats out... especially a journalist... you should take better care and seal up the megaphone door.

      A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit.

      by bronte17 on Sun Apr 14, 2013 at 09:41:35 AM PDT

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