A coalition of powerful conservative leaders, led by the Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund, is demanding that Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus censure RNC committeeman Henry Barbour for his role in racially incendiary appeals to Democratic voters that voting for Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) was a means of helping stop the Tea Party.
The coalition, which includes TPPCF Chair Jenny Beth Martin, ForAmerica Chairman Brent Bozell, Let Freedom Ring President Colin Hanna, FreedomWorks President Matt Kibbe, ConservativeHQ Chairman Richard Viguerie, former RNC grassroots director Drew Ryun, Family Research Council Action PAC Chairman Tony Perkins, and SOS4SOS PAC Chairman Ken Blackwell, is calling on Priebus to create a special RNC committee to investigate the matter and eventually issue a formal RNC repudiation of the actions taken in Mississippi.
The coalition wrote to Priebus:
We, the undersigned, write today to express our outrage at the actions of a member of the Republican National Committee, Mississippi National Committeeman Henry Barbour, and to respectfully insist that you create a committee to investigate questionable activities surrounding the June 24 Mississippi Republican Senate nomination runoff election; that the RNC repudiate any and all unethical and potentially illegal activities associated with the runoff election; and that you and your RNC colleagues formally censure or otherwise discipline the persons responsible for those actions.
In the letter, the coalition details how Cochran’s allies—specifically RNC committeeman Henry Barbour, through his role atop the pro-Cochran Super PAC Mississippi Conservatives PAC—“adjusted” their strategy heading into the June 24 runoff after state Sen. Chris McDaniel won more votes than Cochran in the June 3 primary “by deciding to reach out to Democrats, many of whom voted in the June 3 Democratic primary election.”
“It is illegal in Mississippi for Democrats to vote in a Republican runoff election if they previously voted in the Democratic primary, and thousands of irregular and potentially illegal ballots from the runoff election have already been identified,” the coalition wrote to Priebus, adding:
According to media accounts and Federal Elections Commission reports, Mississippi Conservatives PAC, at Henry Barbour’s direction, hired both James "Scooby Doo" Warren and Mitzi Bickers, two well- known Democrat political operatives, to engage and turn out Democrats for the runoff, many of whom are believed to have voted illegally in the runoff.
The coalition argues that Henry Barbour and the other Cochran allies who participated in such a strategy violated RNC rules, specifically Rule 11(b), which, they wrote, said:
[It] makes clear the Committee’s belief that Republican nomination contests should be decided by the votes of Republicans – and which goes so far as to declare that the Republican National Committee shall not recognize as the nominee of the Republican Party any nominee whose nomination results from a process in which voters who participated in the selection of a nominee of any other party also participated in the selection of the Republican nominee.
McDaniel is estimated to have received more Republican votes than Cochran did in the June 24 primary, despite losing the overall tally by around 7,000 votes.
In their letter to Priebus, the conservative coalition notes that the “strategy decision alone” was far less “troubling” than the “unethical and potentially illegal tactics employed by Henry Barbour’s PAC in its effort to solicit Democrat votes.”
Over the course of six bullet points that take up a full page in the three-page letter, the conservative coalition details those “unethical and potentially illegal” activities in which Henry Barbour and his pro-Cochran Super PAC partook. The first point, “casting illegal votes,” notes how Hinds County Democratic Party Executive Committee election coordinator Claude McInnis says that that county’s GOP executive committee Chairman Pete Perry and election commissioner Connie Cochran, the senator’s sister-in-law, “asked Democrats to help them ‘break the law’ by working together to have Democrats who had already voted in the June 3 Democratic primary vote again in the June 24 GOP runoff.”
The second point cites how Mississippi Democratic Party chairman Rickey Cole has alleged that Cochran allies used “walking around money” in a manner that sought to put cash on the streets in a sketchy get-out-the-vote operation.
The next three points in the letter detail how Henry Barbour’s group appears to be behind “race-baiting radio ads,” “race-baiting robo-calls,” and “race-baiting fliers” that were distributed throughout the black community ahead of the June 24 runoff election.
The sixth and final point in that section questions Henry Barbour’s group’s “questionable finances,” specifically raising concerns about the potentially illegal $250,000 bank loan the group received. “The Mississippi Conservatives PAC is the subject of multiple FEC complaints regarding a $250,000.00 illegal contribution in the form of a ‘loan’ from Trustmark Bank and the refusal to disclose the owner of the certificate of deposit that allegedly serves as the loan's collateral,” the conservative coalition letter reads. “The FEC currently has the matter under investigation.”
The group calls on Priebus to step in and ensure that this type of behavior is not allowed to continue.
The conservative leaders wrote:
These race-baiting robo-calls, race-baiting radio ads, race-baiting fliers, allegations of blatant violations of Mississippi election law, improper financial transactions, and old-fashioned “walking around money,” all paid for by the Super PAC directed by Mississippi Republican National Committeeman Henry Barbour, amount to nothing less than the character assassination of Sen. McDaniel and his supporters. It cannot be tolerated.
If Priebus does nothing, they wrote, they will be forced to conclude he does not care if RNC rules are broken and unethical behavior is committed: