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From Mother Jones:

A secret recording of Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and aides discussing in February how they might attack actor/activist Ashley Judd, then a potential 2014 challenger to McConnell, attracted widespread attention after Mother Jones published it Tuesday morning. Much of the news coverage focused on the McConnell team's comments about Judd's religious views and her mental health history. But the tape might raise ethics questions for McConnell and his staff.

Senate ethics rules prohibit Senate employees from participating in political activities while on government time. But the tape indicates that several of McConnell's legislative aides, whose salaries are paid by the taxpayer, were involved with producing the oppo research on Judd that was discussed at the February 2 meeting.

From the Senate Select Committee on Ethics:

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.

This would explain why McConnell and his team have been so furiously trying to distract from the content of the recordings themselves by accusing opponents of "Watergate-style tactics".

Popcorn time. :)

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