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Activist Fesses Up In McConnell Secret Tape Case

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"Earlier this year, I secretly made an audio recording of Sen. Mitch McConnell, the most powerful Republican on the planet, at his campaign headquarters in Kentucky," Morrison wrote. "The released portion of the recording clocks in at less than 12 minutes, but those few minutes changed my life."

According to Morrison, the episode began when he was tipped off by a reader of his blog that McConnell would launch his re-election campaign with an event in Louisville.

"The tipster did not tell me the time or precise location, but I discovered in only a few days that his HQ was only 1,000 feet from where I then lived," Morrison wrote. "If Sarah Palin had said she could see the McConnell campaign HQ from my deck, she would have survived a fact check."

On the day of the event, Morrison said he asked Shawn Reilly -- Morrison's neighbor, fellow activist, and the founder of the Progress Kentucky super PAC -- to accompany him. They had trouble locating the meeting until the same tipster who originally gave him a heads up called Morrison's cell phone.

"He told me I had missed the launch, pronouncing the donuts cheap and stale and the coffee cold, but the meeting was still going," Morrison said. "And he told me the location of the headquarters: the second floor of a building named Watterson Towers."

In the hall of the second floor, Morrison recognized McConnell's voice on the other side of a door. He pulled out a Flip camera and started recording.

"I was sweating. My heart was racing," Morrison wrote. "When a gentleman walked out of the campaign headquarters and into the hall, I put my Flip and phone back in my pocket, and headed to the elevator. ... Shawn was already there. We made our escape."

The next month, Mother Jones published the audio Morrison had captured. On it McConnell and his staff could be heard discussing opposition research on actress Ashley Judd, including her mental health history. Judd, a Democrat, was considering challenging McConnell but ultimately declined to run.

After that, things quickly turned for Morrison. The FBI began investigating the circumstances of the recording. He was fired from his position as a contributor to the website Insider Louisville. He had a falling out with Reilly, who named Morrison publicly as the culprit and who, Morrison says, never wanted to release the recording. Making things more difficult, Morrison was renting a room from Reilly's sister-in-law at the time. He moved out, and began living in his Jeep.

"It is important to state that sleeping in my car was not a disaster," Morrison wrote. "The self-reliant part felt good, and in the heavy-drinking days that followed, the arrangement solved a few practical matters: Getting home from the bar is real simple when you live in your car."

Morrison still believes it was "all worth it," and he does not believe his actions were illegal. But that determination is out of his hands.

Morrison also wrote a post Friday on a crowd-funding website he has been using the raise money for his legal fees.

"An assistant U.S. attorney, Brian Calhoun, telephoned my attorney yesterday, asking to meet with him next Friday as charges against me are being presented to a grand jury, so it looks like I'm going to need to raise some more money for my attorney fees, after all," Morrison wrote. "Thanks so much for your generous support."

So far, Morrison has received $2,590 from 80 people.

About The Author


Eric Lach is a reporter for TPM. From 2010 to 2011, he was a news writer in charge of the website?s front page. He has previously written for The Daily,, GlobalPost and other publications. He can be reached at