A black reverend stiffed by the Cochran
campaign has exposed an alleged criminal conspiracy by Cochran staffers to
commit massive voter fraud
ahead of Tuesday's controversial U.S. Senate Republican runoff election in
Fielder, associate pastor at historic First Union Missionary Baptist Church
official at Meridian's redevelopment agency, says he delivered "hundreds or even
thousands," of blacks to the polls after being offered money and being
assured by a Cochran campaign operative that Chris McDaniel was a racist.
"They [the Cochran campaign] told
me to offer blacks fifteen dollars each and to vote for Thad."
At the direction of
the Cochran campaign, Reverend Fielder went "door to door, different
places, mostly impoverished neighborhoods, to the housing authorities and
stuff like that," telling fellow blacks that McDaniel was a racist and
promising them $15 per vote. "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,"
released to Got News and a recorded interview with Reverend Fielder confirmed
that Saleem Baird, a staffer with the Cochran campaign and current
legislative aide to U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, and Cochran campaign manager,
Kirk Sims, were involved in a $15 per vote cash bribery scheme to target
members of the black community.
"They said they
needed black votes," said the Reverend Fielder on the phone. He says
Baird told him to "give the fifteen dollars in each envelope to people
as they go in and vote. You know, not right outside of the polling place but
he would actually recruit people with the $15 dollars and they would go in
Fielder said he
received thousands of dollars in envelopes from Baird and distributed them
accordingly. Fielder also says he went to the campaign office on another
occasion to pick up $300 in cash and was among a room full of people who were
doing the same thing he was.
Fielder said that Saleem Baird was doing
the same thing with people all over the state. Fielder believes that the
racist charge against McDaniel and the promise of $15 a vote motivated
'thousands' of black Democrats like him to vote for Cochran in the runoff. When asked if Fielder would have been
more suspicious of Baird's promises had he been white, Fielder replied,
For his efforts,
Fielder says the Cochran campaign and Baird promised him $16,000 for paying
black voters $15 a vote, but Baird wound up stiffing him. Baird even asked him to delete all texts between the two of them.
In addition to Baird, Fielder says he spoke with Kirk Sims, the Cochran
campaign manager, and a woman named "Amanda" with the campaign,
most likely Amanda Shook, director of operations to re-elect Thad Cochran.
All refused to pay him the agreed upon amount of $16,000.
Fielder realized he
had been lied to when he "took a good look at the campaign ads" and
realized "McDaniel was not a racist...me and other people were misguided
Saleem the weekend before the election and asked about whether or not
McDaniel was actually a racist and Baird confirmed it. Baird 'personally
confirmed that McDaniel was a racist." Baird 'manipulated me to
manipulate many other people," says Fielder.
Baird did not
disclose that he worked as a paid legislative staffer for Senator Roger
Wicker. Fielder also says he spoke with campaign manager Kirk Sims about
getting paid and about the ethical complaints he had.
Fielder is a
Democrat but said he has voted for Republicans in the past. And though
Fielder is being paid for his story by Got News, he says he'd come forward
anyways. 'I thought what I did was wrong.' Fielder said he was motivated
mostly by concerns that McDaniels was a racist, not money.
As to what should happen next, 'definitely
the election should not be allowed to stand," says Fielder, who says
he'll support McDaniel in the event of a special election. 'He's been done
wrong. He's not what they said
that he is.'
Were Baird found to
have violated any laws in this matter, this would not be his first time he
had a brush with the wrong side of the law. In 2011, Baird, who is a
legislative staffer with U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, was allowed to keep his
job with the
senator after being arrested on charges of running an illegal strip joint in Jackson.
Bottom line: this is a game-changer. Anyone with an ounce
of decency and any instinct whatsoever for justice will demand a thorough
investigation and will call for a new, fraud-free run-off election or for
Cochran to be disqualified. Chris McDaniel, his supporters, and every citizen
in Mississippi, both black and white, deserve no less.