Carl William Spitzer IV cwsiv at copper.net
Sun Jul 27 16:24:57 MDT 2014



by MATTHEW BOYLE 30 Jun 2014

Rev. Stevie Fielder, an associate pastor at First Union Missionary
Baptist Church in Meridian, Mississippi, says Cochran's campaign “told
me to offer blacks $15 each and to vote for Thad.”

A black Mississippi pastor has emerged to claim Sen. Thad Cochran's
(R-MS) campaign paid “thousands” of Democrats $15 each to vote in the
June 24 GOP runoff – and that he was part of the scheme.

Rev. Stevie Fielder, an associate pastor at First Union Missionary
Baptist Church in Meridian, Mississippi, says Cochran's campaign “told
me to offer blacks $15 each and to vote for Thad.”

Fielder, who was paid by freelance journalist Charles C. Johnson for the
story, provided a new outlet launched by Johnson—GotNews.com—with four
text messages from a person purporting to be Cochran campaign staffer
Saleem Baird.

The messages cite an official Cochran campaign email address—
Saleem at ThadForMs.com—and include detailed discussions of the campaign
providing envelopes of money to distribute to people who vote.

“Send me individual names and amounts along with home address to
saleem at thadforms.com and I’ll have money separated in envelopes at the
office waiting for you,” one message, sent three days before the runoff,

Fielder said he helped distribute the Cochran cash for votes on a
promise of eventually getting paid $16,000—and because a key Cochran
campaign staffer convinced him that Cochran’s conservative challenger
state Sen. Chris McDaniel was racist.

“They sold me on the fact that he was a racist and that the right thing
to do was to keep him out of office,” Fielder said.

But Cochran's campaign never paid, Fielder said.

Fielder also now says he was wrong about McDaniel's character. He said
he “took a good look at the campaign ads” and came to understand that
“McDaniel was not a racist.”

“Me and other people were misguided and misled,” Fielder said.

In a brief phone interview with Breitbart News, Fielder confirmed that
he is an associate pastor at First Union Missionary Baptist Church and
that he leveled the allegations in an interview with Johnson.

The Society of Professional Journalists' Code of Ethics says, “Be wary
of sources offering information for favors or money; avoid bidding for
news.” Johnson defended paying for the story in an email, saying, “Why
wouldn't I pay for an awesome story?”

“Gawker, the Daily Mail, TMZ all pay for information (and they pay
poorly, by the way). There's also a long history of ‘checkbook
journalism’ in America. I'm bringing it back. Indeed, every press baron
in American history has relied on it. Pulitzer, Hearst, Luce, and, yes,
Oprah are all supporters of it. David Frost paid for the Nixon tapes,
goodness sake.”

Though Fielder himself has not been paid the $16,000 he claims he was
promised for his services, he alleges he was given the enveloped cash to
distribute amongst the black community in Mississippi in exchange for
Cochran votes—and further alleges that others like him were similar
given such cash.

Fielder, a Democrat, says he has voted for Republicans in the past and
that his motive to come forward with this information at this time is
that he now thinks what he did was “wrong.” He says he was mostly
motivated by the claims—which he now understands are untrue—that
McDaniel was a racist, not by the money. “Definitely the election should
not be allowed to stand,” Fielder said, adding that he’d support
McDaniel in the event a judge orders a new runoff election as a result
of alleged voter fraud. “He’s been done wrong,” Fielder said of
McDaniel. “He’s not what they said that he is.”

In his interview with Johnson’s Got News outlet, Fielder says Baird was
just one of the several Cochran staffers he interacted with about this
matter pre-election. Fielder claims in his interview with Mr. Johnson
that he also discussed the alleged vote buying matter with Cochran’s
campaign manager Kirk Sims and a woman named “Amanda.”

Baird is a top legislative staffer for Cochran’s Mississippi U.S. Senate
colleague Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS). In 2011, Baird was arrested because
a club he was the manager of allegedly featured a strip show and
allegedly did not have a license to feature women stripping. The charges
were later dropped and Wicker kept Baird on as an employee.

While at this time it is unclear whether Cochran’s campaign’s alleged
actions rise to the level of either of these statutes, federal and state
law prohibit the purchasing of votes.Mississippi’s statute that
prohibits vote buying states that any candidate engaged in such a
practice should disqualified from running in that race for the office or
shall be removed from that office if they have been elected into it.

But as to whether Cochran himself—the “candidate,” per Mississippi law—
would be responsible for the actions of his campaign staffers, election
law attorney Trey Traynor of Beirne, Maynard & Parsons, LLP told
Breitbart News that “clearly yes,” Mississippi’s “statutes applies to
candidates and their agents.”


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