It started as a local story with national implications.
Public radio station WFPL based a story Thursday on Jacob Conway’s allegations that two Progress Kentucky activists – former Insider Louisville reporter Curtis Morrison and Shawn Reilly – secretly recorded Sen. Mitch McConnell and his campaign advisers during a private meeting last February.
Since revelations Thursday about inconsistencies in his story, Conway’s allegations – and Conway himself – have quickly become the focus of national political reporters and bloggers.
Mother Jones magazine released the recording Wednesday in which the senator and his consultants discuss using religion and mental health issues against potential McConnell challenger Ashley Judd.
In the WFPL story, in which he was the sole source, Conway went into detail, alleging Reilly and Morrison recorded the candidate’s Feb. 2 opposition research meeting that followed a media event from the hallway outside McConnell’s Louisville office.
From the WFPL post:
“They were in the hallway after the — I guess after the celebration and hoopla ended. Apparently these people broke for lunch and had a strategy meeting,” Conway said. “One of them held the elevator, the other one did the recording, and they left.”
The story went national after the Courier-Journal reported Reilly’s attorney challenging Conway.
From the Huffington Post:
On April 11, WFPL reported Jacob Conway — a member of the Jefferson County Democratic Executive Committee — said Shawn Reilly and Curtis Morrison of the group Progress Kentucky bragged to him about recording the McConnell meeting. Now, Conway is saying he may never have spoken to Reilly. “I had a lot of conversations with both of them during that time period, and maybe I was just confused, and maybe Shawn never said anything,” Conway told The Courier-Journal. “I did reach out to Mr. Reilly’s attorney and said that maybe my memory was not correct and I’d be willing to say that at a joint news conference,” Conway said.
Conway told TMP Muckraker blogger Eric Lach he “sits on the executive committee of the Jefferson County, Ky. Democratic Party, and said he serves as the party’s official spokesperson.”
Conway also told Lach that many people knew about Morrison’s and Reilly’s alleged actions, though this time, he didn’t reveal names.
In the TMP interview, Conway said he reported Morrison and Reilly to protect the Democratic Party:
“They are active in the Louisville political scene,” Conway said. “I am a leader in the Democratic Party. There’s a difference. They are political activists, and that’s why I came forward, because I wanted to generate a boundary between our party, that I love, and their behavior, with which I do not agree.” While he had not given the county party advance notice of his comments to the NPR station, Conway said he had spoken with county Chairman Bill Ryan on Thursday, and that Ryan “backs me up.”
Ryan, county chairman of the Jefferson County Democratic party, posted on the official website that he – Ryan – “is the only official spokesperson for the Jefferson County Democratic Party.”
“Although Jacob Conway is a member of the Jefferson County Executive Committee he does not speak for the Jefferson County Democratic Party. His recent involvement with the (McConnell) situation is voluntary and is in no way connected to the party,” states Ryan regarding Conway’s recent & unauthorized media appearances.
In several interviews, Conway has changed his recollections of whether he talked directly with Reilly about the McConnell records, or heard allegations from third parties.
Conway told TMP’s Lach he believes someone inside the McConnell camp may have been involved:
“I think this is an important thing that needs to be at least put out in the conversation: how did they know anything was going to be going on there?” Conway wondered. “I guess the point I’m trying to make is maybe a tip came from inside McConnell’s office to tell them, ‘Show up here, at this time.’ Like, ‘There’s going to be a strategy meeting, maybe you want to hang out outside,’ or something like that.”
The Courier-Journal first reported Saturday the inconsistencies in Conway’s allegations after Reilly’s legal team – Ted Shouse and Annie O’Connell – accused Conway of lying.
From the story:
“It doesn’t surprise me to hear (Conway) is recanting,” Shouse said. “We knew all along that his story was false, and we have dealt openly and honestly with the U.S. attorney’s office and with the FBI since this tape was made public. The guy has zero credibility.”
Shouse also researched Conway’s legal history and reported Conway was accused of stealing money from a safe at the Jefferson County Attorney’s office when he was clerking there in 2005.
Conway also switched political allegiance somewhere along the line.
The Log Cabin Republicans, a group of gay and Lesbian conservatives, accused Conway of stealing from them in 2005 when he was a member.
Conway entered an Alford plea in 2006 to felony theft by unlawful taking. Under Alford, the accused doesn’t admit guilt but concedes there is sufficient evidence to convict.
Conway was not jailed, but he paid $2,800 to the county attorney’s office and $670 to the Log Cabin Republicans, according to the Courier-Journal.
Fox News reported FBI agents have surveillance tapes from the lobby of the building where McConnell’s campaign offices are located.
Those tapes could reveal once and for all exactly who was in that hallway February 2 and what they were doing …..