McDaniel aide cleared after courthouse lock-in

Mississippi's Hinds County Sheriff’s Department found that no criminal activity occurred when a staffer and two supporters of Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel’s campaign ended up locked in a county courthouse with primary ballots late Tuesday night.

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“Based on our findings and subsequent conclusion, there is no reason to believe that the three individuals engaged in any criminal activity nor do we believe any laws were broken,” Othor Cain, spokesman for the sheriff’s department, said in a statement Thursday.

McDaniel’s campaign coalition director, Scott Brewster, Central Mississippi Tea Party board member Janis Lane and Rob Chambers, a consultant with a conservative Christian organization that supports McDaniel were sent to the courthouse to oversee the ballot counting process and take down final vote tallies, the campaign said in a statement Wednesday.

Cain said the investigation found that they entered the building through a door that was propped open or malfunctioning, rather than being directed in by uniformed personnel, as Lane had initially indicated.

But he said that the three never had access to the ballots, and “there wasn’t a breach of security as it relates to the integrity of the voting process.” 

The investigation has shrouded the McDaniel campaign’s first two days of his runoff fight with Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), and has given Cochran’s team an opportunity for attack. The longtime incumbent took over 65 percent of the vote in the county. 

Cochran spokesman Jordan Russell told the National Review on Thursday that the McDaniel campaign is “full of criminals,” between the latest finger-pointing and allegations last month that McDaniel supporters taped the senator’s infirm wife.

"They cannot keep themselves out of trouble with the law," Russell said. "This is a campaign that is out of control."