The campaign of Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran denied Tuesday that they bought the votes of black Democrats for $15 a piece in last month’s contentious GOP run-off, though acknowledged they had a working relationship with the man who made the allegations against them in a video posted online.
“There is absolutely no truth to these baseless and false allegations,” said Cochran campaign spokesman Jordan Russell.
Cochran, a Republican, defeated conservative State Sen. Chris McDaniel in a run-off last month, likely with the help of black Democrats who crossed party lines in the state’s open primary to defeat the tea party favorite.
Late Monday, GotNews.com, a new website published by a journalist who is also a McDaniel supporter, published an interview with a man named Stevie Fielder who said the Cochran campaign “told me to offer blacks fifteen dollars each and to vote for Thad.”
The story’s headline is: “Cochran Campaign Manager, Staffer Busted in Illegal Vote Buying Operation.”
Fielder provided the website with what appears to be texts between him and a Cochran official.
While the Cochran campaign denied Fielder’s claim that they paid people to vote for them, they acknowledge they paid him to help organize volunteers.
“We paid this guy $300 to drive people to do standard get out the vote activities,” Russell explained. “We were going to pay him another $300, but he didn’t do anything.”
He said the campaign paid door-knockers $25 by giving them envelopes of cash.
Russell also suggested that the campaign is considering legal action in response to the allegations. “It’s under active consideration,” he said.
Asked which specific laws the two may have broken, Russell said, “I don’t know, but the attorneys are looking through all of that right now.”
“I think that if people are going to make wild accusations they can’t be surprised if they are held accountable for their actions.”
A closer examination of Fielder’s background indicates that there are reasons to be skeptical: The editor of GotNews.com, Charles C. Johnson, acknowledged that he compensated Fielder for his interview.
News reports also indicate that Fielder was arrested in 2006 on charges of home repair fraud.
And while GotNews.com described Fielder an associate pastor at First Missionary Baptist Church in Meridian, the Mississippi Clarion-Ledger reported that church deacon Robert Markham said Fielder disputed that title and said he is a self-proclaimed minister.
The Daily Caller’s Chuck Ross contributed to this report.