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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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  •  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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