Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell's re-election campaign said on Tuesday it has asked the FBI to investigate how a campaign strategy meeting was recorded in which ways to attack a potential rival, actress Ashley Judd, were reportedly discussed.
The magazine, Mother Jones, said it had obtained a recording of the meeting and that McConnell and his aides discussed criticizing Judd "for her past struggles with depression and her religious views."
Judd has since ruled out running against McConnell in 2014.
Mother Jones, which has a liberal slant, reported that at the Feb. 2 meeting in Louisville, Kentucky, McConnell and his aides discussed how to attack Judd.
McConnell's campaign did not dispute the authenticity of the recording. "We've always said the Left would stop at nothing to attack Sen. McConnell, but Watergate-style tactics to bug campaign headquarters are above and beyond," the McConnell campaign statement said.
McConnell's campaign said it is working with the FBI and at the request of the FBI had notified the U.S. attorney's office in Louisville about the recordings.
"Obviously a recording device of some kind was placed in Senator McConnell's campaign office without consent. By whom and how that was accomplished presumably will be the subject of a criminal investigation," McConnell's campaign said.
Mother Jones was the magazine that obtained a recording of a fund-raising speech by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney last year in which Romney said 47 percent of Americans were dependent on government and unlikely to vote for him. When disclosed, the recording dealt Romney a damaging blow.
A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Louisville declined to comment on the existence of an investigation. An FBI spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
One thing any investigation would focus on is whether any law was in fact broken. Federal law and the law in many states prohibit the intercept of oral communication, but that might not apply depending on who made the recording and how.