Possible McConnell challenger won’t denounce bugging of headquarters

Alex Pappas Political Reporter

The Kentucky politician that Democrats are hoping will challenge Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in 2014 is causing a stir by refusing to denounce the surreptitious recording of McConnell’s campaign headquarters earlier this year.

With actress Ashley Judd and top Kentucky Democrats opting against a Senate run in the Bluegrass State, all eyes have turned to Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, who acknowledged this week that she is considering a run for the U.S. Senate.

Speaking with reporters in Kentucky on Thursday, Grimes dodged a question about whether she denounces the secret taping of a McConnell campaign strategy session like Kentucky’s Democratic governor and lieutenant governor have both done.

“I think that here in Kentucky, the citizens want candidates, they want people that are here shaping policy for Kentucky and for the nation, that are for bringing people together and not personally attacking them or their families,” Grimes said when asked if she denounces the taping.

Judd and Grimes were among the topics of conversation during a Feb. 2 McConnell meeting with his staff on opposition research of possible candidates. Audio from that meeting was published by the left-leaning Mother Jones website.

A liberal super PAC called Progress Kentucky has been fingered as being responsible for the taping.

Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear has called the taping “deplorable.” Jefferson County Democratic Party chairman Bill Ryan called it “unfortunate that Progress Kentucky felt that this was acceptable behavior.”

Grimes has ties to those behind Progress Kentucky. In 2011, Shawn Reilly, the co-founder of Progress Kentucky, tweeted a photo of him at a table with Grimes.

A political aide to Grimes denied “any grand conspiracy” in an interview with BuzzFeed.

“She just met him and talked to him and it was about her race for Secretary of State, it certainly was nothing to do with with Mitch McConnell,” consultant Dale Emmons said.

UPDATE: A local news outlet is reporting that Grimes on Wednesday condemned the tape. “I do not condone racial or ethic denigration. I also do not condone the content of the recording that has surfaced from Sen.McConnell’s campaign or the context in which it was allegedly obtained,” she said.

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