Curtis Morrison came clean last week, admitting that he secretly recorded Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell conducting a campaign strategy session in February.
Morrison subsequently leaked the audio to a liberal website and its release made big news: liberals were outraged over the contents of the recording, where the Kentucky Republican’s team discussed the damaging parts of then-potential opponent Ashley Judd’s memoir. Meanwhile, conservatives decried a Nixonian plot on the part of liberals willing to stop at nothing to take McConnell down.
In a piece published Friday titled “Why I secretly recorded Mitch McConnell,” the liberal activist from Kentucky revealed that he is facing potential federal charges for his surreptitious recording.
As he faces a potential grand jury indictment, Morrison agreed to answer several questions from The Daily Caller by email about why he’s going public now, what he thinks he accomplished with his stunt and why he thinks people like WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange are heroes.
TheDC: In your piece at Salon confessing to secretly recording Mitch McConnell, you wrote, “Helping the voting population better understand a political leader’s true priorities is a good thing. And hell yes, it’s ethical.” Did it ever cross your mind that what you were doing could land you in prison?
Morrison: No, it never crossed my mind really, but I can tell from tweets and emails, there’s a lot of people out there who have given a lot of thought to the kind of sex I could face in prison! But let’s back up a minute…
My mother raised me to think for myself, to figure out for myself the difference between what was right and wrong, not just follow the path that will keep me out of trouble. If George Washington had been worried about the British sending him to prison, where would we be now? Avoiding prison is not noble, contributing to the public interest, that’s noble.
TheDC: You also wrote that “given another chance to record him, I’d do it again.” But was the juice really worth the squeeze? Liberals didn’t like to hear Ashley Judd’s memoir being discussed by McConnell’s team, but it seems to me to just be a routine campaign meeting. What was it that McConnell said that you are willing to risk going to jail for in order for the public to know?
Morrison: I’ve helped to launch a congressional campaign, Senate campaign, and mayoral campaign, as well as worked for a progressive super PAC, and I’ve never, ever, been privy to a room full of people laughing uncontrollably over a woman’s personal struggles with depression.
Nor have I been privy to a campaign considering the use of an opponent’s religious beliefs to pit people of faith against each other.
In the recording, when they found out Judd related to Saint Francis, who was Catholic and often called the “patron saint of animals,” they revel with uncontrolled laughter, plotting how to use that detail to drive Louisville’s Southeast Christian Church to the streets with “pitchforks and torches.”
I have a lot of friends who are Catholic, and I have a lot of friends who go to Southeast Christian, and all of them deserve better from their senator.
But here’s the real kicker, I am not convinced the consequences of the recording have been realized for McConnell’s campaign. A few reporters have told me when they ask McConnell’s campaign manager who it was I recorded in that room, they hear crickets on the other end of the line.
I’m not an expert in federal campaign finance law, but I do know that super PACs and candidate campaigns can’t sit around in secret meetings hashing out strategies on how to spend campaign dollars, nor am I making allegations that is what happened. However, I am curious to know whether anyone from Karl Rove’s super PAC was in that room, so if I’m indicted, at least we’ll finally find that out.
TheDC: Your confession at Salon seems unusual for someone facing potential federal charges. What made you write the piece? How do you think your confession could help you?
Morrison: I’ve always found it strange that our culture discourages people from telling their truth if suspected of wrong-doing. Maybe if I make it through law school, I’ll come out telling people to keep quiet, but I doubt it. The truth is a powerful thing, I think we underestimate its power. By the way, you noticed McConnell had nothing to say Friday, right? Instead of asking me why I’m not afraid to speak up, maybe we should be asking him why McConnell is afraid?
TheDC: One of the things that surprised you was the reaction from Kentucky Democrats condemning your recording. Would things be different for you if you had more support from those Democrats?
Morrison: Probably not. I was just disappointed more than anything else. At the time, McConnell was fundraising on the allegation that he had been wiretapped in a Nixonian plot, inferring the president was involved.
Given that melodramatic work of fiction McConnell got out there first, I can’t really blame Democrats or Republicans for denouncing me. You don’t expect a U.S. Senator to make allegations first, and ask questions later? But now he’s doing it with the IRS, too, and that’s a shame. That actually may be a legitimate scandal, but the way he’s cried wolf so many times, who can believe him now?
TheDC: Would you do anything differently if you could?
Morrison: I would have not taken [Shawn Reilly of the liberal super PAC Progress Kentucky] along with me that day. If you want to take on one of the most powerful tyrants on the planet, you can’t have anything to lose. I’m older than Shawn, and my dog, Boomer, died in November. My gig with Insider Louisville wasn’t really paying the bills anyway.
As long as McConnell doesn’t go after my family, l have nothing to lose. But even then, most of my family was in the tea party before he pretended to be, and they really don’t care for him.
TheDC: Why do you refer to Julian Assange and Anonymous as “vigilante heroes”?
Morrison: I think Julian Assange and Bradley S. Manning are both heroes because they exposed truth. Fascism only works with secrecy.
Google “Collateral Murder” to see a video of the unprovoked slaying of a Reuter’s reporter, his cameraman and his rescuers that Assange released three years ago. Before the video’s release, the Obama administration denied any knowledge of the incident. You’d think McConnell would see them as heroes as well for exposing Obama, but it’s more important to him I guess that he’s able to preserve the culture of secrets.
TheDC: When do you expect to find out if you’ve been indicted?
Morrison: I have no idea. My guess would be within the next couple weeks, but for all I know Obama’s DOJ will come pick me up before I’m on TV Monday.