Mother Jones, the liberal investigative-news magazine that broke the story of Mitt Romney's 47 percent remark during the presidential campaign, is now taking aim at Mississippi politics.
MoJo reports that in August, state Sen. Chris McDaniel, who last week announced his candidacy for the U.S. Senate, addressed a "a neo-Confederate conference in Laurel, Miss., near his hometown of Ellisville."
Attendees were reportedly urged to dress in "Confederate uniforms and antebellum ball gowns or wee kilties."
McDaniel told the Clarion-Ledger political editor Geoff Pender, however, that he never attended the ball and was at a meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council at the time.
MoJo doesn't provide any videographic proof but quotes sources saying that McDaniel attended the ball (the invitation listing McDaniel can be found here), but reports:
McDaniel was joined at the Southern Heritage Conference by Al Benson, a historian from Louisiana, who talked about his book Red Republicans & Lincoln Marxists, which speculates that Lincoln's actions during the Civil War were influenced by the writings of Karl Marx. ("Was Abraham Lincoln influenced by communism when the Union condemned the rights of Southern states to express their independence? It’s shocking to think so.") Benson's Amazon bio describes him as "a true Copperhead," a reference to Northern Democrats who supported the Confederate cause. In the September issue of the Rosin Heels newsletter, Benson writes that the nation's public school system was a product of "spiritual apostasy" by Unitarians and socialists.
The third speaker at the event was Ryan Walters, a PhD student at the University of Southern Mississippi who occasionally guest-hosts "The Right Side," the radio program McDaniel hosted before he entered politics (and still regularly appears on). Walters worked for McDaniel's first political campaign and previously suggested that President Obama was preparing to send army tanks to Texas. "As you recall, there was great controversy over Obama's birth certificate, which hasn't really been solved, but that's another story," he wrote in a recent blog post.
McDaniel is the first, and may end up being the only, Republican to come out and challenge the veteran Sen. Thad Cochran. McDaniel is one of the Tea Party's favorite legislators; Cochran is one of the Tea Party's most hated.
Mother Jones points out that the Rosin Heels has put up billboard wishing Confederate president and former Mississippi resident Jefferson Davis a happy birthday/
Now, in fairness to the Rosin Heels and to McDaniel, the Mississippi Senate once adjourned in memory of southern General Robert E. Lee and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., whom share a recognized birthday, at the suggestion of African American state Sen. Hillman Frazier of Jackson.
Updated to reflect a correction. A previous version misstated that MoJo did not quote sources saying McDaniel attended. The magazine did report that one of the organizers confirmed McDaniel's attendance.