We interrupt our coverage to bring you this special report.
The Chris McDaniel campaign has had a few bad days since the runoff, but yesterday might have been the worst.
Both literally and figuratively, the “Exhibit A” of the election challenge has been the allegations around Meridian “Reverend” Stevie Fielder, who received $2,000 to fabricate a story about vote buying. Money has probably not been spent so poorly since Dickie Scruggs and his band of dunces tried to pay a state judge $40,000 to help influence a fee-dispute case for them. We all know how that turned out.
Those who have been following this Hostage Crisis closely are now experiencing “outrage fatigue.” So much crazy stuff is happening so fast, that it’s hard even for people who are really paying attention to process and keep perspective on just how utterly insane all of this really is.
Yesterday, there were three stories that would have been “above the fold” on any regular newsday, but for the Hostage Crisis, it’s just another day at the office.
Early yesterday, revelations were hitting the press that Noel Fritsch campaign manager was being fingered for having some role in the Stevie Fielder interviews. The interviewers referred to “Noel” directly in the recording and Fritsch would not answer questions to Sam Hall about whether or not he raised the funds that ultimately got paid to Fielder (Chuck Johnson still claims credit for actually making the payments). Though it’s entirely plausible that Fritsch asked supporters for money, got that to Johnson and that Johnson paid those funds to Fielder.
Then around midday, another bomb hit.
John “Bert” Mary pleaded to a bill of information and admitted that he played a key role in the break-in to Rose Cochran’s assisted living facility for the purpose of taking a picture. For his part, Mary will get no jail time, but will cooperate against Richard Sager and Clayton Kelly. Late yesterday, Madison County DA came out with the revelation that John Mary had contact with the McDaniel campaign right before/during the break-in period. That obviously has massive implications.
So now, we bring forth the award winning YallPolitics Memory Division. Remember that on or about the time that the break-in arrests went public (May 16), the McDaniel campaign made several statements during the media firestorm that ensued. Their second statement that day is the most telling.
“The McDaniel campaign found out about the break in when a local political blog posted about it at 11:40 p.m. last night. Senator McDaniel has denounced the break-in and called Senator Cochran to extend his condolences. It is unconscionable for the Cochran campaign and the liberal media to use the act of a sick individual to lob despicable accusations.”
Now we know, in fact, that the campaign at least had some contact with folks who were literally in the process of committing criminal offenses. We don’t know yet exactly what was said between Mary and whoever on the paid staff he talked to, but the optics of any conversation on or about that time is an absolute killer for the campaign. It puts them squarely in the blast radius of what happened and it becomes almost impossible for them to say, when combined with Melanie Sojourner’s call to Kirk Sims that they had outreached to Clayton Kelly on or about the time, that they didn’t have constructive knowledge of the event.
Finally, last night, MS GOP Chair Joe Nosef calculated that a 52 member executive committee in a 5 hour hearing was probably not the best forum to hear McDaniel’s “binder full” of evidence. Nosef said the best forum is a courtroom, which was where this deal was heading to regardless. McDaniel’s folks were already trying to turn a GOP Executive Committee appeal into a circus anyway (wanting it publicly held in a large forum).
Definitely not a banner day in the Hostage Crisis to say the least.
You know, different segments of society have a way of immediately correcting aberrant behavior. In baseball, if you act a fool, you get plunked (or beaned). In the mafia, if you get out of line, you get whacked. In hockey, if you get out of line, someone beats the crap out of you, serves a 5 minute penalty and the issue is over. But politics is different. There’s no immediate way to correct aberrant behavior like what we’re seeing. It will likely come over time, but in the short term, we appear to all be stuck watching the circus.
One thing that is clear is that Noel Fritsch continues to be a massive liability for the McDaniel campaign. Between how Firearm Freedom Day, the mangling of the original revelations of the nuring home scandal, the Liberty Action Center spend and now revelations of knowledge and involvement in the Fielder issue, Fritsch has been in the middle of the worst of it from the get go. For McDaniel himself, who talks about “a party of principle”, to continue to be burdened with the liability that Fritsch has become is a headscratcher. The truth is that Fritsch probably knows too much to be thrown overboard, but in truth, that’s the real problem. Regardless, he should take one for the team and as Snagglepuss used to say “exit stage left”.
With Mary cooperating and as time marches on, you’ve got to think that the other dominoes will topple over quickly and whatever the campaign knew looks like will quickly come out.
Get ready. I know we are.
That’s the way it was – Day 43 of the McDaniel Hostage Crisis.
Good day Mississippi – and good luck.
As stated on several occasions, the author of this piece has made a reportable campaign contribution this cycle in this race. Please factor that into your reading of this story.