The Chris McDaniel campaign issued a plea Thursday for $15 donations to help pay rewards for information about voter fraud, and it officially notified U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran's family it has requested the records from the June 24 runoff.
McDaniel supporters have been reviewing poll books in a majority of the state's 82 counties looking for people who voted in the Democratic primary June 3, then voted in the June 24 GOP runoff. That would be a violation of state election law. The campaign has said it believes if it can find enough such violations it can challenge and overturn the election.
McDaniel spokesman Noel Fritsch said the campaign is required by law to give the other side three days' notice it is seeking the records before it can get them. Fritsch said he did not know if a decision had been made to formally challenge the runoff Cochran won by about 6,000 votes.
Cochran spokesman Jordan Russell said McDaniel is just "tilting at windmills."
"They are within their rights to do this, but they're just wasting their time," he said.
Russell said he has seen evidence from Lauderdale County that of the more than 10,000 votes cast, officials found seven who had voted illegally. The Cochran campaign earlier said it had found two instances in which McDaniel was claiming more illegal crossover votes in the runoff than there were Democratic votes in the primary.
McDaniel's plea for donations also offered an email address and phone number (Reward@mcdaniel2014.com or 601-624-7748) to
report election-fraud evidence. The reward would be paid if the evidence results in a conviction, the press release said.
In addition to the allegation of voting irregularities, a Lauderdale County man has told the GotNews blog the Cochran campaign paid him to buy votes. Cochran's campaign denies it paid for votes and said the accuser, Stevie Fielder, is a disgruntled former employee who was denied a $300 payment because he could not prove he had done any work to earn it. Campaign officials said they were considering legal action against the blogger and the accuser.
"The most important issue here is maintaining the integrity of the electoral process here in Mississippi," McDaniel said in a news release announcing the reward program. "These allegations of criminal behavior on behalf of the Cochran are troubling, and any evidence of fraud will be turned over to the authorities to be investigated."
Russell dismissed it as a "ridiculous stunt."
"Every day that goes by it becomes clearer that Chris McDaniel is not doing any of the good of the state," he said.
Earlier in the day, Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann sent out a news release saying his office and the state want to be dismissed from a True the Vote lawsuit seeking election records. Hosemann said his office has complied with all election laws.