Subpoena Names McDaniel Spokesman, Tea Party Official | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Subpoena Names McDaniel Spokesman, Tea Party Official

The U.S. Senate hullabaloo following the race between Chris McDaniel (pictured) and incumbent Thad Cochran has reached the courts yet again, this time in a criminal investigation regarding an alleged vote-buying scheme in Meridian.

The U.S. Senate hullabaloo following the race between Chris McDaniel (pictured) and incumbent Thad Cochran has reached the courts yet again, this time in a criminal investigation regarding an alleged vote-buying scheme in Meridian. Photo by Trip Burns.

The U.S. Senate hullabaloo following the race between Chris McDaniel and incumbent Thad Cochran has reached the courts yet again, this time in a criminal investigation regarding an alleged vote-buying scheme in Meridian.

On Sunday, the state issued a subpoena to Charles C. Johnson, a blogger and journalist who made a name for himself during Mississippi's 2014 U.S. Senate election by breaking a number of stories involving allegedly unethical campaign practices.

In a paid interview, Rev. Stevie Fielder of Meridian told Johnson after the June 24 runoff that he worked alongside the Cochran campaign in a vote-buying effort on behalf of the incumbent. Jan Schaefer, spokeswoman for Attorney General Jim Hood, told the Jackson Free Press that Fielder has informed Hood that Noel Fritsch, the McDaniel campaign spokesman, paid him with the knowledge that he was lying. Fritsch has not returned a phone call today for comment.

Lauderdale County summoned Johnson to produce "ANY AND ALL RECORDS, regarding the interview of Stevie Fielder and/or regarding the payment of an interview fee to Stevie Fielder" and "ANY AND ALL RECORDS, regarding your conversations and dealings with John Rhodes and/or Noel Fritsch," according to the subpoena Johnson photographed and tweeted yesterday before later taking it down.

Rhodes, chairman of the South Mississippi Tea Party and a McDaniel supporter, had not previously been linked to the vote-buying allegations or its story. Johnson acknowledged when the Fielder story published that he paid the pastor to see text messages that suggested Cochran campaign staffers planned to pay for votes.

Johnson's subpoena does not appear to be in response to the election challenge conducted by the McDaniel campaign, but a separate criminal investigation.

Although the subpoena states that the investigation involved a suspected felon, it is not clear who exactly is being investigated, and the subpoena does not implicate Johnson. The letter appears to be stamped by Lauderdale Circuit Clerk Donna Jill Johnson and signed by Deputy Clerk Donna Googe.

The subpoena, with a dated seal of Aug. 6, also states that it is not to be disclosed. Reached today, he said he could not talk to the Jackson Free Press about the subpoena until cleared by counsel.

Johnson is to appear in court Sept. 22 at the Meridian courthouse. He will speak tonight at 7 p.m. in Flowood at Life Church Jackson (671 Grants Ferry).

Comments

RealityCheck 4 years, 5 months ago

Although the subpoena states that the investigation involved a suspected felon, it is not clear who exactly is being investigated, and the subpoena does not implicate Johnson.

There is no way to tell from the subpoena whether Johnson is implicated or not. You make an unwarranted conclusion that Johnson is not implicated. The fact that that Lauderdale County officials want to know what communications Johnson had with Rhodes and Fielder at least hints he was involved in some way yet to be determined. You also failed to mention that Johnson posted a copy on the subpoena on Twitter despite the clear warning that it was not to be disclosed.

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TitusPrime 4 years, 4 months ago

Reality Check; Account overdrawn. Stick to the facts and weed out the opinions. The Fact that a judge requested documentation to verify that payment was made to secure services of fraud, slander and misconduct is SOP justice investigation and does not hint or imply anything.

Your statement makes an unwarranted conclusion that he is implicated by suggesting he may not be implicated, there is no truth or facts available, so there is absolutely no reason to make public assumptions about anything.

Also, this article does mention the twitter post, and states it was immediately redacted since it was specifically against court procedure in this case to publicly display the data.

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