The Federal Election Commission (FEC) is investigating possible campaign finance law violations by Mississippi Conservatives, a Super PAC supporting Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran. The committee has until August 1st to respond to a letter requesting additional information. A failure to do so “could result in an audit or enforcement action.”
Mississippi Conservatives, a group associated with Haley Barbour, shelled out $44,000 for race-baiting robo-calls urging black Democrat voters to vote for Cochran in the waning days the Republican primary last week.
According to the FEC letter, it appears the committee failed to file one or more of the required 24-hour reports regarding “last minute” independent expenditures. Specifically, the FEC says the committee did not file a 24-hour report for a $15,000 payment to Scott Howell & Company on May 30th as an independent expenditure against Chris McDaniel, Cochran’s opponent in the contentious runoff election. Howell, a media consultant, is a Karl Rove protégé with a history of race-baiting ads.
The FEC also asked Mississippi Conservatives to explain an independent expenditure paid to Winning Edge that was reported on a 24-hour report, but was not correlated with the committee’s Schedule E for the 12-Day pre-runoff report covering 5/15 through 6/4. Haley Barbour has been associated with Winning Edge, a direct mail operation, since 2003.
The FEC investigation comes amid allegations of voting irregularities and suggestions that a Cochran staffer was involved in a vote-buying scheme. In May, the Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission alleging a bank loan a Mississippi bank gave to the Mississippi Conservatives Super PAC was illegal. On Tuesday, True the Vote announced a lawsuit they were filing against Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann and the Mississippi Republican Party. The group, along with twelve Mississippi voters, is asking for an injunction to stop certification of the election results so they can have time to review election documents.
On Wednesday Chris McDaniel’s campaign sent out an email saying that liberal Democrats “stole last week’s runoff election” with “illegal voting.” He called the election a “sham, plain and simple” and asked supporters for donations to help him mount a legal challenge to the election results.