The YouTube you’re going to see below runs about 20 minutes, and it’s worth every second of your listening time. It describes, in detail, how “street money” is spent in the black community by electoral campaigns.
The subject of the interview is Rev. Stevie Fielder, associate pastor at historic First Union Missionary Baptist Church in Mississippi and a Democrat Party fixer who was brought in by the Thad Cochran campaign as part of their effort to “expand the electorate” – and specifically, as Fielder says, to distribute envelopes with $15 in them as a reward to black voters for pulling the lever for Cochran.
The interview was conducted by Charles C. Johnson and Joel S. Gilbert of GotNews.com, a new investigative reporting site, which is looking into allegations of illegality in the yet-to-be-certified Mississippi GOP senate primary where Cochran beat Tea Party challenger Chris McDaniel by a little less than 7,000 votes. Cochran’s “expand the electorate” strategy brought in some 35,000 Democrats who “crossed over” to vote in the GOP primary, which was enough to move the election into his column.
It is illegal under MS Code § 23-15-561 (2013) to “publicly or privately put up or in any way offer any prize, cash award or other item of value to be raffled, drawn for, played for or contested for in order to encourage persons to vote or to refrain from voting in any election.” And the penalties to candidates who violate that statute are significant. Besides a $5,000 fine…
(3) Any candidate who shall violate the provisions of subsection (1) of this section shall, upon conviction thereof, in addition to the fine prescribed above, be punished by:
(a) Disqualification as a candidate in the race for the elective office; or
(b) Removal from the elective office, if the offender has been elected thereto.
So the allegations of “street money” are not simply pointless whining about Cochran’s conduct. There is actual illegality here, and now there is a specific accuser who is on the record with the accusation. Now, Fielder’s credibility could be entirely in question; he admits that he is disgruntled because he believes he’s been stiffed out of some $16,000 in consulting fees due him by the Cochran campaign.
But the allegations are specific, and they involve a Saleem Baird, a staffer for Mississippi’s other senator Roger Wicker who was employed by Cochran in this campaign. He also implicates Cochran’s campaign manager Kirk Sims and Amanda Shook, the campaign’s director of operations.
Safe to say, this is a very big deal. It could well end up reversing the election.