Thad Cochran Campaign Denies Reports of Vote Buying

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Wednesday, 02 Jul 2014 06:48 AM

By Elliot Jager

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Claims by conservative blogger Charles Johnson that a "black reverend" bought votes in the Mississippi senatorial runoff election to help defeat state Sen. Chris McDaniel have been denied as "baseless" by the Thad Cochran campaign, The Clarion-Ledger reported.

Johnson wrote that the Rev. Stevie Fielder told him he had "delivered 'hundreds or even thousands' of blacks to the polls after being offered money and being assured by a Cochran campaign operative that Chris McDaniel was a racist. 'They told me to offer blacks $15 each and to vote for Thad.'"

Jordan Russell, a spokesman for the Cochran campaign said Johnson's accusations were not true. He said that Johnson acknowledged paying Fielder for his story. Russell added, "It comes from a blogger who in the last 24 hours has accused a Mississippi public official of being responsible for an individual's death and had to retract other outlandish accusations regarding another Mississippi elected official," the Clarion-Ledger reported.

McDaniel was defeated partly because Cochran was able to tap African American voters who traditionally vote Democratic to support him in the special Republican runoff.

Russell said the campaign used Fielder for its get-out-the-vote effort. He was to be paid $600 but was given only half that amount since he failed to deliver, according to the Clarion-Ledger.

Fielder is reportedly a self-proclaimed minister who does not have a reputation for integrity in the African American community. Melba Clark, who is active in local church and Democratic affairs, said she didn't think any votes were bought and that she would have heard about it if it were true, the Clarion-Ledger reported.

Meanwhile, Roll Call reported that the Federal Election Commission has asked a Super PAC, Mississippi Conservatives, a Haley Barbour-affiliated group, to provide information regarding its purported failure to file required paperwork related to expenditures on behalf of Cochran's campaign.

Red State said that Winning Edge, another group involved with Cochran that has come under FEC scrutiny, also has Haley Barbour connections.

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