Thad Cochran’s supporters bankrolled race-based attacks on Chris McDaniel.
Even in the bitterly fought primary battle between Mississippi senator Thad Cochran and his challenger, state senator Chris McDaniel, some of the radio ads that aired against McDaniel were considered especially incendiary. One charged that a McDaniel victory would set back “race relationships between blacks and whites and other ethnic groups.” Another warned that his campaign was part of an attempt to “roll back the hand of time.”
The political-action committee that aired the ads raised eyebrows from the outset.
For one thing, it had the same address, phone number, e-mail domain, and leader — the bishop Ronnie Crudup — as the Jackson-based New Horizon Church International. Crudup told Mississippi’s Clarion-Ledger earlier this month that he founded the PAC and raised $200,000: “Some money from the Republicans,” some from African Americans. “I raised money from a number of sources,” he said.
As it turns out, Crudup raised all of the $144,685 his PAC took in from exactly one source: Haley Barbour’s political machine. A report filed with the Federal Election Commission reveals that Mississippi Conservatives, the political-action committee founded by the former Mississippi governor and Republican National Committee chairman and run by his nephew, Henry, provided that money to Crudup’s group in four installments. The first, in the amount of $62,685, came on June 10, a week after the race was thrown into a runoff. Cochran and his allies were looking to increase voter turnout across the state, particularly among African Americans and Democrats who had not voted in the June 3 primary.