Ashley Judd has yet to run for public office, but she's already getting a bitter taste of political intrigue.
The actress, who contemplated a bid for Kentucky senator, is at the center of a Watergate-esque kerfuffle after a damning secret audio recording of a meeting between her would-be Republican opponent, Mitch McConnell, and his campaign strategists surfaced Tuesday, and the FBI has now opened an investigation into the leak.
In the audio, which was published by Mother Jones Tuesday and sent by an unidentified source, the Republican leader and his aides could be heard criticizing the actress as they questioned her mental and emotional health, alluded to her past suicidal tendencies as chronicled in her autobiography, and tore into her stance on family and parenthood, sneering that "she thinks it's unconscionable to breed."
"She's clearly, this sounds extreme, but she is emotionally unbalanced," the meeting leader could be heard saying. "I mean it's been documented. Jesse can go in chapter and verse from her autobiography about, you know, she's suffered some suicidal tendencies. She was hospitalized for 42 days when she had a mental breakdown in the '90s."
The 44-year-old actress is also taken to task for her religious views.
"She is critical…of traditional Christianity," the audio continues. "She sort of views it as sort of a vestige of patriarchy. She says Christianity gives a God like a man, presented and discussed exclusively with male imagery, which legitimizes and seals male power, the intention to dominate even if that intention is nowhere visible."
Later, the actress is ripped for being "clearly sort of anti-sort-of-traditional American family."
"She described having children as selfish, and she thinks it's unconscionable to breed," the meeting leader adds. "She also is critical of, of fathers giving away their daughters in marriage ceremonies. She says it's a common vestige of male dominion over a women's reproductive status when her father gives her away at a wedding."
McConnell's camp, meanwhile, has fired back, claiming that their offices were bugged and calling for an investigation.
"Senator McConnell's campaign is working with the FBI and has notified the local U.S. Attorney in Louisville, per FBI request, about these recordings," the senator's camp said in a statement, per The Hollywood Reporter. "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."
For her part, Judd has decried McConnell and his aides, characterizing their attacks as "yet another example of the politics of personal destruction that embody Mitch McConnell and are pervasive in Washington, D.C.," she said in a statement. "We expected nothing less from Mitch McConnell and his camp to take a personal struggle such as depression, which many Americans cope with on a daily basis, and turn it into a laughing matter."