The Senate Conservatives Fund on Tuesday wired $70,000 to Chris McDaniel’s legal fund to investigate alleged voter fraud in last month’s election between McDaniel and Mississippi Republican Sen. Thad Cochran, Yahoo News has learned.
Cochran narrowly defeated McDaniel, a tea party-backed candidate who challenged the six-term senator from the right, in a June 24 runoff election after he rallied last-minute support from black Democrats in the state. In Mississippi, voters can cross party lines to vote in primaries as long as they don’t vote in their own party’s contests as well.
McDaniel has refused to concede the race, alleging that Cochran “stole the election” by relying on voters who already participated in the Mississippi Democratic primary, held on June 3. His campaign opened an Election Challenge Fund to pay for a possible legal challenge and has offered a $1,000 reward to anyone with knowledge of voter fraud.
The SCF, a group that supports conservative congressional candidates, launched a fundraising drive over the weekend to help his legal challenge and wired a majority of the funds Tuesday, SCF’s new president, Ken Cuccinnelli, told Yahoo News. The group, which originally said it had no plans to participate in a challenge, has raised more than $90,000 in the past few days and plans to send the rest of the money early next week. During the campaign, the group spent $1.3 million in support of McDaniel, fueling a heated battle between the tea party and official party groups aligned with Cochran.
“Funds will be used to pay the expenses of the lawyers overseeing poll book inspections, the preparation of the evidence to ascertain if an appeal is warranted, and the legal expenses if a court challenge is made,” the SCF fundraising plea read. Because the fund is a separate account from the campaign funds, McDaniel supporters are allowed to donate up to $2,600 to the fund even if they already maxed out donations to his campaign.
Attorneys representing McDaniel’s campaign have expressed confidence in their effort to challenge the results in court and said their investigation should result in another runoff election. The court challenge will set McDaniel on another uphill battle against the Republican establishment in which he will be outmanned and outraised against the party, which officially certified the results of the election Monday.