July 1, 2014 By Matthew Burke
Republican establishment-backed Senator Thad Cochran has been accused of dirty tricks and unethical tactics in the Mississippi GOP Senate primary runoff on June 24, but the accusations have just leapfrogged from the unethical to the highly illegal, making the validity of the election results questionable.
“They [Cochran campaign] told me to offer blacks $15 each and to vote for Thad,” said Reverend Stevie Fielder, a black pastor from the First Union Missionary Baptist Church, told Charles C. Johnson, in a shocking interview on Monday.
Fielder told Johnson (listen to interview below) that he brought “hundreds or even thousand” of blacks to the polls after being convinced by the Cochran campaign that Tea Party challenger, Mississippi State Senator Chris McDaniel, was a “racist.” Fielder says he was also offered $16,000 to by the Cochran campaign to pull off the vote buying scheme, but the campaign broke their promise and refused to pay him after he delivered the votes.
“They said they needed black votes,” Fielder said about the Cochran campaign’s scheme to buy Democrat votes in order to rig the election in his favor.
According to the report from Johnson on his Got News site, the vote buying scheme was implemented by Saleem Baird of the Cochran campaign, and Kirk Sims, a legislative aide to U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, Cochran’s junior colleague from Mississippi:
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.
Reverend Fielder showed Johnson text messages from his cell phone, claiming they were from Baird, coordinating the money delivery in exchange for votes in favor of 76-year-old Thad Cochran, a 42-year Washington veteran.
Fielder told Johnson that Saleem Baird personally delivered the cash “from the campaign” to bribe the black voters.
According to the Cochran campaign, Cochran received 35,000 Democrat votes in the Republican runoff, but only 6,700 more votes than McDaniel overall, indicating that Democrats selected the GOP Senate nominee for the State of Mississippi.
It is illegal under several provisions of Mississippi law and federal law for campaign officials to bribe voters with cash. Such actions are punishable up to five years in jail. (MS Code 97-13-1; MS Code 97-13-3 (2013) (Federal Code 18 U.S.C. 597, U.S.C. 1973i(c)) Voter fraud schemes are not unusual for Mississippi. In 1999 Mississippi’s attorney general reported massive voter fraud allegations throughout the Magnolia state. In 2011, a Mississippi NAACP leader was sent to prison for voter fraud, according to the Daily Caller.
“They sold me on the fact that he [Chris McDaniel} was a racist,” said Reverend Fielder, explaining that his motivation for cooperating in the scheme wasn’t the money, but was to keep a “racist” from being elected. Fielder admitted he had no information to indicate that McDaniel was a racist, other than the assurances he received from the Cochran campaign.
“I thought what I did was wrong,” Fielder said apologetically.