The man who said he was paid $2,000 to falsely accuse Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) of a vote-buying scheme to get African-Americans to vote for him in the runoff election of the Mississippi race for U.S. Senate is now saying state Sen. Chris McDaniel’s (R) spokesman, Noel Fritsch, was the one who paid him to do the interview, according to the Clarion-Ledger and WJTV.
The man, Stevie Fielder, was the main source in a report by conservative blogger Charles Johnson that said Cochran’s campaign promised to pay African-Americans $15 a pop to vote for the incumbent senator in the runoff, which Cochran won by beating McDaniel.
Last Wednesday Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood (D) said his office was investigating whether Johnson himself paid Fielder to point the finger at Cochran. At the time Hood said he did not know who paid Fielder. On Monday evening Hood spokeswoman Jan Schaefer confirmed to the newspaper that Fielder said it was Fritsch who paid him.
Fritsch (pictured, right) denied Fielder’s accusation in an email to TPM and, instead, pointed the blame at Johnson and Saleem Baired, who has served as the Cochran campaign’s minority outreach director.
“Charles Johnson paid for the texts & emails Cochran/Wicker staffer Saleem Baird sent that prove Cochran bought Democrat votes,” Fritsch wrote in the email. He did not respond to additional questions from TPM.
The claims from the people involved in the vote-buying report keep changing. Johnson has said that he paid Fielder for the interview but hasn’t said how much. Fielder, also, previously claimed that he was paid by the Cochran campaign to get African-Americans to vote for Cochran. He later changed his story and said he was only describing a hypothetical situation.
Stevie Fielder via Rawstory.com.
Johnson, in a tweet on Wednesday, said he found it a “touch ridiculous” that after he admitted to paying Fielder the “media lies.”
I find it a touch ridiculous that I am openly & repeatedly saying that I paid Rev. Fielder cash 4 his text messages but media lies. #mssen
— Charles C. Johnson (@ChuckCJohnson) August 6, 2014
Read the transcript of the Fielder interview here. That interview was included in the election challenge packet the McDaniel campaign handed to the Mississippi Republican Party when it formally announced its challenge to the election results.
Fritsch photo via Facebook.
This post was updated.