WASHINGTON, July 2, 2014 – While the Washington D.C. establishment is busy celebrating their victory in Mississippi, the battle for the nomination is not over. Just one week later the situation on the ground in Mississippi and in Washington has changed dramatically.
Accusations of fraud swirl around Cochran’s campaign and Black Democrats expect a return on investment.
The runoff campaign between Sen. Thad Cochran and challenger Chris McDaniel was noteworthy for the disgraceful way the Cochran campaign courted black Democrat voters with lies about the Tea Party, alleging racism and that McDaniel would take away their food stamps, welfare payments, and funding to the state’s historically Black colleges and universities.
While disgraceful, those tactics are legal. What is not legal is paying people for their votes. Allegations of the Cochran campaign paying “walking around money” to potential voters circulated even before the vote.
Now specific allegations have been reported in a story in Mississippi’s independent journalism site Got News.
Reverend Stevie Fielder, associate pastor at historic First Union Missionary Baptist Church says he delivered “hundreds or even thousands,” of blacks to the polls after being offered money to do so and being assured by a Cochran campaign operative that Chris McDaniel was a racist. “They [the Cochran campaign] told me to offer blacks fifteen dollars each and to vote for Thad.”
He says he was offered $16,000 by Saleem Baird, a staffer with the Cochran campaign and current legislative aide to U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, and Cochran campaign manager Kirk Sims to pass bribes to potential voters. When they didn’t pay up, Fielder came forward.
Fielder says Baird told him to “give the fifteen dollars in each envelope to people as they go in and vote.”
Fielder also says he went to the campaign office on another occasion to pick up $300 in cash and was among a room full of people who were doing the same thing he was. He believes the operation was state-wide.
Fielder said he was motivated more by the claims of racism than the money. As to what should happen next, “definitely the election should not be allowed to stand,” says Fielder, who says he’ll support McDaniel in event of a special election. “He’s been done wrong. He’s not what they said that he is.”
The Cochran campaign denies Fielder’s claim. A “There is absolutely no truth to these baseless and false allegations,” said Cochran campaign spokesman Jordan Russell, according to the Daily Caller, which is skeptical of Fielder’s claims.
Oh what a tangled web we weave,
When first we practice to deceive! – Sir Walter Scott
McDaniel has not conceded the race; indeed, his campaign says that they have found thousands of fraudulent votes in one county alone. Still, the chances of overturning the election are slim. Courts are reluctant to overturn results, preferring instead to punish the offenders. It does happen, though: an election in Center, Colorado was overturned when evidence of massive mail-in vote fraud was uncovered. In this Mississippi election, more than 7,000 votes, or 20% of the estimated 35,000 Democrat votes cast, would have to be proven fraudulent.
No one yet know for sure how much fraud there was. Today True the Vote filed a lawsuit in federal district court under the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 in an effort to get access to voter records.
Meanwhile, Democrats have been quick to remind Cochran that there’s no such thing as a free lunch.
According to Politico, “Members of the Congressional Black Caucus are talking about what they want Cochran to do” if he gets re-elected for another six-year term. Their wish list includes “maintaining funding for food stamps, beefing up programs that help poor blacks in Mississippi and even supporting the Voting Rights Act.”
The very things Cochran accused the Tea Party of wanting to do away with if McDaniel were elected.
Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH), the chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, told Politico, “Absolutely we have expectations.” Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) said after Cochran was “desperate” enough to court the black vote, he hopes that Cochran is now “responsive to the voters that pushed him over the top.”
It seems that, like it or not, Cochran is now a member of the Congressional Black Caucus and they expect him to vote like it. Of course, there is nothing they can do to force him to vote their way so the result may be that Cochran will make enemies on the left as he already has on the right.
The mess the Establishment started hasn’t ended—and may not for a while. The national press won’t follow it with unwavering attention like they did the 2000 Florida presidential results or the 2010 senate contest in Minnesota but that doesn’t mean it’s going away.
On Saturday, July 5th, conservatives are planning a Freedom Rally in support of McDaniel at the Mississippi State Capitol.