Sen. Thad Cochran’s (R-Miss.) primary challenger, state Sen. Chris McDaniel, is offering a $1,000 reward in exchange for evidence of voter fraud in his contentious primary fight that leads to an arrest.
The pastor said he believed the tactic was widespread and drove thousands of voters to the polls, but he was paid for the interview by a conservative blogger, raising doubts about the legitimacy of his claims.
Cochran’s team has vehemently denied the allegations, but McDaniel is now taking new steps to find further proof.
“We’re offering $1,000 for evidence leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone involved in voter fraud on or leading up to the June 24, 2014, Republican primary runoff election in Mississippi,” a new McDaniel fundraising site reads.
The site implores supporters to “counter Thad’s alleged $15 scheme with a $15 plan of our own,” and contribute $15 to fund the rewards. McDaniel’s campaign says it hopes to fund 15 $1,000 awards.
But provided no one comes forward with evidence — which would have to be particularly damning, to lead to an arrest — the money won’t go to waste. McDaniel’s campaign reported more than $100,000 in debt at the beginning of June, but is gearing up for a planned legal challenge to the runoff results, which is likely to be costly.
To fund that effort, his team set up a legal defense fund this week — and contributions through the “Voter Fraud Reward” fundraising push go directly to that pool.
Though Cochran was named winner of the GOP primary runoff last week, McDaniel has yet to concede, and is in fact compiling evidence to contest the results of the race in court. He’s accused Cochran of “stealing” the election, in part because the Cochran team made a concerted — and ultimately successful — effort to turn out African-American Democrats to the polls in the runoff.
Under Mississippi election law, residents who voted in one party’s primary are ineligible to vote in another party’s runoff, meaning anyone who voted in the Democratic primary would be ineligible to vote in the GOP runoff. The McDaniel team says it's found 4,900 “vote irregularities” after poring over the polling books, “the vast majority of which” are those illegitimate crossover votes.
Cochran’s team is unfazed by the allegations, however. Campaign adviser Austin Barbour said at a press conference on Wednesday that he wants to see evidence of the McDaniel campaign’s claims.
“The time has come now for the McDaniel campaign to put up or shut up,” he said. “If there's something that's out there let’s talk about it, let's look through this. If they've got hard evidence bring it forward.”