Politics

Chris McDaniel Aide Named In Grand Jury Subpoena

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Alex Pappas
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      Alex Pappas

      Alex Pappas is a Washington D.C.-based political reporter for The Daily Caller. He has also written for The Washington Examiner and the Mobile Press-Register. Pappas is a graduate of The University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn., where he was editor-in-chief of The Sewanee Purple. While in college, he did internships at NBC's Meet the Press and the White House. He grew up in Mobile, Ala., where he graduated from St. Paul's Episcopal School. He and his wife live on Capitol Hill.

A grand jury in Mississippi is probing the activities of Senate candidate Chris McDaniel’s spokesman, according to a copy of a subpoena that was posted online.

On Sunday, Charles C. Johnson, who runs the pro-McDaniel GotNews.com website, briefly posted a copy of a grand jury subpoena demanding his presence before a Lauderdale County grand jury on Sept. 22.

Among other items, the subpoena instructs Johnson to bring with him “any and all records regarding your conversations and dealings” with Noel Fritsch, who is McDaniel’s campaign press secretary.

McDaniel lost to incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran in Mississippi’s Republican primary run-off in June. His campaign is formally challenging the results, citing voter irregularities.

Johnson, citing his attorney’s advice, has since deleted the image of the subpoena from his account though other news organizations have published it.

The grand jury investigation is apparently about allegations that Cochran’s campaign engaged in vote buying, published by Johnson’s website. GotNews.com published an interview with a man named Stevie Fielder who accused the Cochran campaign of giving him money to distribute to black voters in exchange for votes.

“While the context of the subpoena remains unclear at this time,” Fritsch told The Daily Caller in a Monday email, “it is clear that any ongoing investigation has to do with Sen. Cochran’s alleged vote buying scheme as detailed in Rev. Fielder’s lengthy interview with Charles Johnson at GotNews.com, and we are confident that Mississippi authorities will subpoena the email and text message records from Cochran staffers to Rev. Fielder detailing the alleged vote buying scheme.” ​

The story has been muddied: Cochran’s campaign vehemently denies the allegation, Fielder appears to have recanted some of his allegations, and, now, Attorney General Jim Hood claims Fritsch was involved in arranging Fielder’s interview with GotNews.com.

The subpoena specifically asks Johnson for records “regarding the interview of Stevie Fielder and/or regarding the payment of an interview fee to Stevie Fielder.”

It also asks Johnson for records of his “conversations and dealings with John Rhodes,” the chairman of the South Mississippi Tea Party.

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