Questions Mount About Effort to Drive Democrat Votes for Cochran
CLEVELAND, Mississippi — “I still think the slaves should get their 40 acres and a mule,” LeeRoy Carter, a black preacher who’s working to get out the vote among black Democrats for Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) for the GOP primary runoff, told Breitbart News on Thursday. “I still think it, honest to God I do. Because we haven’t gotten it.”
Outside the Bolivar County Courthouse, Carter said he is delivering voters for Cochran in the Republican primary runoff but voting for Democrat Travis Childers in the general election in November. Experts argue that voting for a Republican in the runoff but a Democrat in the general election is technically illegal, but the strategy is the linchpin of a desperate bid by Cochran to use Democratic voters to prevail against Tea Party-backed state Senator Chris McDaniel.
In Mississippi, voting is more racially segregated than almost anywhere else. In 2008, for example, 88 percent of white voters cast their ballots for Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), while 98 percent of blacks voted for President Obama.
And the racial divide is evident in Carter's remarks. “White folks—and I hate to use that word—but they going to be back down there in the position that blacks was in, in slavery, if they don’t open their eyes and put the hatred out of their minds and go on get something done for the people of this country,” Carter said. “You can’t tie people down.”
Cochran has faced complaints for trying to go around the Republican party to win its primary. But the efforts have also run into a series of allegations about legally questionable tactics being used.
Technically, according to former Department of Justice Civil Rights division attorney J. Christian Adams, it is illegal for Democrats to vote in the GOP primary in Mississippi unless they plan on supporting the Republican candidate in the general election.
Rickey Cole, chairman of the Mississippi Democratic party, has advised his party’s voters against voting in Tuesday’s GOP primary runoff—citing the law that states it is illegal for them to do so in a Friday email to Democrats.
“That is the black letter law,” Cole wrote. “Look it up.”
Jackson-based attorney Mitch Tyner contacted the U.S. Attorney’s office in Jackson to inform them of the issue. Tyner—a supporter of state Sen. Chris McDaniel who actually ran against former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour in 2003’s GOP primary—told Breitbart News the U.S. Attorney’s office has informed him that the FBI has been made aware of these happenings and may be conducting investigative work in Mississippi over the coming days leading up the election.
Cole and others have also said shadowy Democratic operatives working to drive Democrats to the polls for Cochran, like James “Scooby Doo” Warren, are known for using “walking around money” and other tactics to incentivize voters to the polls.
A black conservative political activist even recently posted the “going rates” for black preachers to endorse Cochran from the pulpit, saying he was familiar with how much they were being paid.
Carter, though, denies he's receiving any money for his work to help Cochran.
“I ain’t seen no kind of money around here,” he said when asked if he received any cash from Cochran’s team to help deliver voters to the polls. “I ain’t seen no walking around, no crawling around, no jumping around money.”
The efforts by Cochran allies to reach out to Democratic voters became more pronounced and open after the initial primary election but appear to have begun before it.
Allegations of voting fraud and other problems prompted officials from True The Vote, a national election integrity organization, to come to Mississippi to investigate, and the group is conducting a review of voting patterns and results in the recent primary, the group's president, Catherine Engelbrecht, told Breitbart News.
So far, the review is still in process, but officials are looking for precincts that historically saw little turnout in Republican primaries but large numbers of voters cast ballots in the recent election.
“What we’re trying to determine is what has happened right now in this election cycle that has never happened before and what might the reasons for that be,” Engelbrecht said in a Friday interview on the steps of Panola County Courthouse in Batesville, Mississippi.
“What might those numbers suggest it means for Tuesday? From that, does it appear to be there were efforts to subvert process? Does it break the law?” she said.
In the June 3 primary, McDaniel beat Cochran by only 1,386 votes. Neither candidate reached an absolute majority, given a third party entrant, and the runoff could be similarly close, raising the stakes of the review.
Engelbrecht said she’s found some irregularities in voting patterns already from the June 3 primary results.
The Adams County North Side precinct had zero Republican voters in the 2012 GOP primary election, according to documents posted on the Mississippi Secretary of State's website. In the 2014 GOP primary, however, 68 people voted for Cochran, six for McDaniel, and one for Thomas Carey.
Coahoma County Lyon District saw 95 votes in the 2012 GOP primary, the documents show, but in 2014 Cochran got 202 votes while McDaniel got 63 there. That’s a more than 200 percent increase in GOP turnout there, while the state as a whole only saw about an 8 percent increase in turnout since 2012’s GOP primary.
Meanwhile, Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund, Senate Conservatives Fund, and FreedomWorks have teamed up to send Adams, the former DOJ attorney, to Mississippi to fight for a clean election in the runoff on Tuesday.
Adams has already, on his blog at conservative outlet PJ Media, reported that there are Democrat notaries who engaged in allegedly illicit conduct in previous elections in state working to help Democrats vote for Cochran right now in the state.
“[PJ] Tatler [the name of Adams’ blog] has learned that Democrat notaries who engaged in illegal conduct in previous elections in Mississippi (according to a federal court ruling) are now harvesting absentee ballots for the Republican runoff from African-Americans who have always voted in Democratic Party primaries,” Adams wrote on Thursday, referring to various Democratic Party notaries public are “voting the actual ballots of the voters” for the voters.
“This is the sort of voter fraud that academics and political hacks (but I repeat myself) say is rare and doesn’t really amount to much,” Adams wrote. “Tatler can report that the notaries who have been engaged in voter fraud going back at least a decade are now in the field once again harvesting absentee ballots from African-Americans in the Republican primary who normally never vote in the Republican primary in Mississippi.”