In an explosive and exclusive post at GotNews.com, investigative journalists Charles C. Johnson and Joel S. Gilbert blow the lid off the vote-buying scandal which lies at the heart of Thad Cochran’s tainted victory over Chris McDaniel in the June 24 GOP senate primary run-off election on June 24.
This story is the smoking gun. In fact, the smoke is so hot coming out of this gun it’s melting the barrel. This is not just a smoking gun, it’s an exploding gun, blowing up right in the face of the Cochran campaign and the Barbour PAC that was behind this blatantly unethical and patently illegal scheme. Shrapnel is flying everywhere.
According to Johnson and Gilbert, black pastor Stevie Fielder of the First Union Missionary Baptist Church was hired by the Cochran campaign to pay blacks $15 a pop to vote for Cochran in the run-off. Fielder admits he was deceived and manipulated and brainwashed by the Cochran camp into thinking that Chris McDaniel was a racist. It was as if he had been convinced that vote-buying was necessary to keep McDaniel from wearing his white hood on the floor of the United States senate and burning crosses on the White House lawn.
Fielder’s testimony is of a piece with the reprehensible, race-baiting radio ads and flyers that were distributed in the black community in the run-up to June 24, tarring McDaniel and the Tea Party with wholly slanderous accusations of racism.
By Fielder’s admission, he personally distributed thousands of dollars by handing out pre-packaged envelopes he got from the Cochran campaign, each containing a $15 bribe for African-American voters. He picked up these envelopes in batches of 20 at a time and distributed them door to door until he ran out and went back for more.
Writes Matthew Boyle at Breitbart (emphasis mine),
Fielder, who was paid by freelance journalist Charles C. Johnson for the story, provided a new outlet launched by Johnson—GotNews.com—with four text messages from a person purporting to be Cochran campaign staffer Saleem Baird.
The messages cite an official Cochran campaign email address—Saleem@ThadForMs.com—and include detailed discussions of the campaign providing envelopes of money to distribute to people who vote.
“Send me individual names and amounts along with home address to firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll have money separated in envelopes at the office waiting for you,” one message, sent three days before the runoff, says.
This scandal should be game over for Sen. Cochran’s senatorial career, and game over for the Barbour PAC that hatched this misbegotten and immoral scheme.
At the very minimum, the election results from June 24 should be tossed in the nearest landfill and a new run-off election scheduled.
According to Boyle, state law requires that any candidate whose campaign is found guilty of vote-buying is to be disqualified. This would make Chris McDaniel the GOP nominee without spending a boatload of taxpayer money on another run-off election. He would instantly be the favorite to become the next senator from the state of Mississippi. That looks from here to be the path of justice.
The entire Johnson-Gilbert article is worth the read, and the entire interview with Pastor Fielder is worth a listen. Here are the highlights (emphasis and minor typographical edits mine throughout):
Cochran Campaign Manager, Staffer Busted in Illegal Vote Buying Operation
Charles C. Johnson and Joel S. Gilbert
Democrat black reverend, who brought “hundreds” to the polls for promise of payment, exposes alleged massive voter fraud, vote buying operation by Cochran campaign.
|A black reverend stiffed by the Cochran campaign has exposed an alleged criminal conspiracy by Cochran staffers to commit massive voter fraud ahead of Tuesday’s controversial U.S. Senate Republican runoff election in Mississippi.Reverend Stevie Fielder, associate pastor at historic First Union Missionary Baptist Church and former official at Meridian’s redevelopment agency, says he 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 [the Cochran campaign] told me to offer blacks fifteen dollars each and to vote for Thad.”(snip)
At the direction of the Cochran campaign, Reverend Fielder went “door to door, different places, mostly impoverished neighborhoods, to the housing authorities and stuff like that,” telling fellow blacks that McDaniel was a racist and promising them $15 per vote. “They sold me on the fact that he was a racist and that the right thing to do was to keep him out of office,” Fielder says.
Text messages released to Got News and a recorded interview with Reverend Fielder confirmed that Saleem Baird, a staffer with the Cochran campaign and current legislative aide to U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, and Cochran campaign manager, Kirk Sims, were involved in a $15 per vote cash bribery scheme to target members of the black community.
“They said they needed black votes,” said the Reverend Fielder on the phone. He says Baird told him to “give the fifteen dollars in each envelope to people as they go in and vote. You know, not right outside of the polling place but he would actually recruit people with the $15 dollars and they would go in and vote.”
Fielder said he received thousands of dollars in envelopes from Baird and distributed them accordingly. 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.
Fielder said that Saleem Baird was doing the same thing with people all over the state. Fielder believes that the racist charge against McDaniel and the promise of $15 a vote motivated ‘thousands’ of black Democrats like him to vote for Cochran in the runoff. When asked if Fielder would have been more suspicious of Baird’s promises had he been white, Fielder replied, “Yes, definitely.”
For his efforts, Fielder says the Cochran campaign and Baird promised him $16,000 for paying black voters $15 a vote, but Baird wound up stiffing him. Baird even asked him to delete all texts between the two of them. In addition to Baird, Fielder says he spoke with Kirk Sims, the Cochran campaign manager, and a woman named “Amanda” with the campaign, most likely Amanda Shook, director of operations to re-elect Thad Cochran. All refused to pay him the agreed upon amount of $16,000.
Baird realized he had been lied to when he “took a good look at the campaign ads” and realized “McDaniel was not a racist…me and other people were misguided and misled.”
Fielder confronted Saleem the weekend before the election and asked about whether or not McDaniel was actually a racist and Baird confirmed it. Baird ‘personally confirmed that McDaniel was a racist.” Baird ‘manipulated me to manipulate many other people,” says Fielder.
Baird did not disclose that he worked as a paid legislative staffer for Senator Roger Wicker. Fielder also says he spoke with campaign manager Kirk Sims about getting paid and about the ethical complaints he had.
Fielder is a Democrat but said he has voted for Republicans in the past. And though Fielder is being paid for his story by Got News, he says he’d come forward anyways. ‘I thought what I did was wrong.’ Fielder said he was motivated mostly by concerns that McDaniels was a racist, not 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 the event of a special election. ‘He’s been done wrong. He’s not what they said that he is.’
Were Baird found to have violated any laws in this matter, this would not be his first time he had a brush with the wrong side of the law. In 2011, Baird, who is a legislative staffer with U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, was allowed to keep his job with the senator after being arrested on charges of running an illegal strip joint in Jackson.
Bottom line: this is a game-changer. Anyone with an ounce of decency and any instinct whatsoever for justice will demand a thorough investigation and will call for a new, fraud-free run-off election or for Cochran to be disqualified. Chris McDaniel, his supporters, and every citizen in Mississippi, both black and white, deserve no less.
(Unless otherwise noted, the opinions expressed are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of the American Family Association or American Family
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.