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End the Scandals: Vote McDaniel in Mississippi’s GOP Senate Primary

Kay Webber and Thad Cochran

The upcoming June 3 GOP primary pitting principled limited government constitutional conservative Chris McDaniel against 36-year incumbent establishment Republican Senator Thad Cochran, whom Citizens Against Government Waste once named the leading pork-seeker in the Senate, is looking better and better for McDaniel.

Not only is McDaniel right on the issues, but Cochran has been embroiled in a series of high-profile scandals involving his relationship with his executive assistant, from whom he rents an apartment in Washington and who has accompanied him on trips to some 42 countries across five continents since 2002.

According to Breitbart’s Matthew Boyle, Sen. Cochran and executive assistant Kay Webber “traveled eight times to France, five times to Italy, four times to Israel, and twice to Japan."

The full list of countries they traveled to includes: Italy, France, Brussels, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Hungary, Russia, Norway, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Malta, Austria, and Czech Republic in Europe; Colombia, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina, and Chile in South America; Guatemala, and Mexico in North and Central America; Japan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia, Vietnam, Hong Kong, the Republic of the Philippines, and South Korea in Asia; Turkey, Jordan, Israel, Azerbaijan, Oman, and United Arab Emirates in the Middle East, to Morocco; and Egypt, Cape Verde, and South Africa in Africa.

Other documents show that in 2005 and 2007, the Wine Institute, a trade association that represents the California wine industry, paid for Cochran's and Webber's travel to Sonoma, California, for what a disclosure form described as “a fact-finding program on issues of importance to the wine industry.” No other aides attended the trip.

The Congressional Record lists 33 trips that Cochran and Webber attended together. According to that record, the cost to the American taxpayer of Webber's travel was at least $155,000.

Cochran’s globe-spanning junkets with a female aide raise eyebrows among conservative voters in Mississippi, but what really got our attention was the disclosure that a super PAC supporting Cochran appears to have received a bank loan backed by an anonymous donor – a potentially illegal arrangement that has launched an inquiry by the Federal Election Commission.

And guess who, or what, is right smack in the middle of this questionable arrangement?

The political machine of DC super lobbyist and former Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour.

As Roll Call first reported, the super PAC in question is Mississippi Conservatives—a pro-Cochran Super PAC. The PAC’s FEC report indicates that it had “receipts of $717,993 during the first quarter of 2014, including a $250,150 loan from Trustmark Bank.”

Trustmark is a nationally chartered bank and publicly traded corporation headquartered in Jackson, MS. Its president Harry Walker is a Cochran donor.

Roll Call’s Kent Cooper wrote that “the most unusual aspect of the loan” from Trustmark to Cochran’s Super PAC “is there are no future contributions or future receipts pledged as collateral for the loan.”

Attorney Cleta Mitchell and Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund have filed a complaint with the FEC, claiming that the Mississippi Conservatives PAC FEC documentation “clearly states that there is no collateral for the loan and Trustmark National Bank has no perfected security interest in any collateral as required” under federal law.

The PAC and the bank also, according to the complaint, did not “establish a proper repayment source of a pledge of future contributions” as required by federal law.

The FEC complaint also argues that Walker himself committed a separate violation of federal law that prohibits any officers or directors of any national banks—of which he is for Trustmark—to consent to any such “contribution or expenditure” as was made to the pro-Cochran Super PAC.

Also, the complaint notes, Walker made a $1,000 contribution to the personal re-election campaign of Sen. Cochran on the same day that Trustmark bank made its “illegal contribution” to the Super PAC.

This Super PAC has drawn criticism before. Its leader, Henry Barbour, is the nephew of former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour—a major supporter of Cochran and donor to this super PAC. Henry Barbour’s brother Austin Barbour is a senior strategist for the Cochran campaign, and works out of the same building in Jackson, MS.

As we observed in our article “Mississippi’s Stockholm Syndrome Republicans,” Mississippi’s Republican voters find themselves in a Stockholm Syndrome-like relationship with Haley Barbour, their super lobbyist former Governor, and his extended political family who have held the Mississippi GOP captive for going on thirty years now.

We suggest that Haley and Henry Barbour aren’t backing thirty-six year incumbent Senator Thad Cochran because of his distinguished record as a legislator. Cochran is almost universally acknowledged as one of that body’s least distinguished members, but he is at the top of every Washington lobbyist’s must-donate list as one of the Senate’s biggest pork-barrel spenders.

It’s time for Mississippi’s conservative Republican voters to shake off the Stockholm Syndrome-like relationship with Thad Cochran, Haley Barbour, Henry Barbour and the rest of their big government Republican cronies. They’ve held the Mississippi GOP hostage for the past thirty years while they metaphorically robbed the bank. The best way Mississippi's conservative voters can break their bondage to the Barbour machine is to vote for Chris McDaniel for Senator on June 3.

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