Washington, D.C. — When Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) asked the FBI to investigate after a recording of a meeting with aides at his campaign office was leaked to the public, he definitely didn’t anticipate the subsequent media maelstrom regarding his own dirty dealings. For his potential misuse of Senate staff and resources to conduct opposition research for his reelection bid, Sen. McConnell’s actions have yet again earned him the dubious honor of Scoundrel of the Month.
According to a report in Mother Jones, on February 2, 2013, Sen. McConnell met with aides to discuss research they had conducted about potential Democratic opponents. The recording seems to reveal that Senate staff members conducted the campaign research, potentially violating federal law and Senate ethics rules.
In the recording, an unnamed presenter thanked the individuals who conducted the research, including “LAs,” an acronym for legislative assistants or legislative aides. The presenter specifically names Phil Maxson, who has been employed as a legislative aide in Sen. McConnell’s office since early 2011, and appears to refer to the senator’s chief of staff, Josh Holmes. Reports filed with the Federal Election Commission show neither man has been paid by Sen. McConnell’s campaign committee or leadership PAC.
“Campaigns routinely engage in opposition research. The law, however, clearly bars members of Congress from having their taxpayer funded staff do the dirty work,” said CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan. “Sen. McConnell demanded the FBI investigate the circumstances of the taping, but justice dictates a full investigation of all illegalities, including the misuse of Senate staff. If Sen. McConnell did nothing wrong, he should welcome the FBI’s thorough inquiry.”
Nominations are already being accepted for May’s Scoundrel of the Month. People, entities, and agencies are all eligible. Submit your choices by May 17th. Voting will begin the following week.