Cochran Campaign: We 'Screwed Up' FEC Cash Filing

Wednesday, 09 Jul 2014 05:53 PM

By Cathy Burke

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Mississippi Republican Sen. Thad Cochran's campaign confesses it "screwed up" Federal Election Commission reports listing $53,000 in get-out-the-vote cash payments, and is amending the filings.

Conservative blogger Charles Johnson reported Monday the Cochran campaign reimbursed staffer Amanda Shook for cash listed as "Reimbursed Expense — Campaign Walkers" – with payments ranging from $8,000 to $15,000 – in violation of FEC regulations that allow reimbursements to staff only for travel and food expenses.

Any other outlay would be considered a contribution, which have a $2,600 limit.

"Our treasurer screwed up, and we are fixing it right now," campaign adviser Austin Barbour told the Jackson Clarion-Ledger on Tuesday. 

"We are amending our FEC report for the primary, and the one for the runoff — I think it's due within a week or so — will be filed correctly."

"People screw up FEC reports all the time," Barbour added. "We haven't gotten any notice from the FEC on it. You are allowed to go back and amend a report. You are encouraged to go back and amend reports."

The revelation followed Johnson's report last week of a man who said he was given cash and told to pay black voters $15 each to cast a ballot for Cochran in the June 24 Republican primary runoff election, which Cochran won. 

The Cochran campaign openly wooed black voters, but denies it tried to buy any votes.

Barbour told the Clarion-Ledger the cash payments to Shook should have been listed as outlays to get-out-the-vote workers.

"Amanda, as director of operations, is like our office manager," he said. "So she would run to the bank to get cash to pay field workers."

He told the newspaper the payments weren't out of the ordinary – and that his uncle, former Gov. Haley Barbour, and Republican Sen. Roger Wicker both made use of the practice.

"Everybody pays in cash," Barbour said. "Let's say I'm a field rep for Madison County. I don't know on a particular day if 50 people are going to show up or 40 — I don't know who is going to show up. I don't know whether some will work only one shift, others two shifts.

"Trying to have checks for everybody is a waste of time. And if you don't pay people that day, they walk, they may not come back."

Barbour told the newspaper the campaign has the names and addresses of all of the get-out-the-vote workers.

The Hill noted the cash outlays, nevertheless, give losing challenger state Sen. Chris McDaniel new ammunition in their fight to overturn the runoff, which Cochran won by about 7,600 votes, and force a special election.

In a statement to the Clarion-Ledger Tuesday, McDaniel noted, "The allegations of criminal misconduct against the Cochran campaign and his close associates continue to mount.

"Mississippians deserve a full accounting of the unbecoming tactics of the Cochran campaign used in their attempt to drive ineligible voters to the polls in June."

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