Cochran camp tries to clear vote buying allegations - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Cochran camp tries to clear vote buying allegations

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Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Call it what you want , illegal activity or a political game; the fallout is the same as the blows are still coming in the Republican Senate race.

Pictures of text messages and an audio recording were posted on the new web site "Got News" Monday night. It alleges vote buying by Thad Cochran's campaign.

Stevie Fielder is the Meridian man at the center of the vote buying allegations against Thad Cochran's campaign. We tried several numbers listed for him and the church where the online story says he is a reverend. No one answered at any of the numbers.

When asked about Fielder, Robert Markham, one of the deacons at First Union Missionary Baptist Church, told us he is not an associate pastor there, and he would not do business with him.

But the communication director for Cochran's campaign says they did have a business deal with Fielder.

"Mr. Fielder was paid a small amount of money, $300 to reimbursements for his vehicles that he was using to transport get out the vote efforts," explained communications director Jordan Russell.

Fielder didn't get the other $300 because he stopped campaigning. So, he started calling Cochran's office, demanding money.

"What really amounts to extortion and we're not going to pay ransom," said Russell. "We're not going to pay extortion. And obviously his next move was to sell a story to a highest bidder."

One of the authors of the now-viral story is Charles Johnson. He admits to buying information for this story. His twitter account indicates he was brought into Mississippi by the Tea Party Express.

For the story, Fielder screen shotted text messages with a Cochran staffer. That staffer is Saleem Baird, the minority outreach director.

Fielder says he was given envelopes with 15 dollars inside. He claims he handed them out in exchange for Cochran votes. Envelope payments of a different sort, aren't rare. Russell says they're for campaign workers and are in line with the law.

"It's $25 dollars a shift and it's paid in an envelope," Russell said. "The reason that we would need the name and address is so that we can report all of our disbursements to the FEC."

Cochran's campaign is discussing the allegations with attorneys.

Chris McDaniel posted the "Got News" story on his Facebook page last night. He asked his supporters to share it.

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