- - Monday, June 30, 2014

Republican leaders in every state will be put on the spot by the Tea Party movement either to condemn or endorse how Sen. Thad Cochran narrowly won re-nomination in the GOP primary runoff last week in Mississippi.

The Tea Party movement is furious at how it was trashed by Republican establishment activists who depicted that movement as racist. That imagery was used to secure Cochran’s victory by gaining cross-over votes from black Democrats. The movement’s largest national grassroots network, the Tea Party Patriots, will push the Republican National Committee (RNC) to officially censure those involved in the trashing.

The principal targets of a still-being-drafted censure resolution are Henry Barbour, Mississippi’s Republican national committeeman who ran a pro-Cochran super-PAC, and his uncle, former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, who is a former GOP national chairman and was heavily involved in funding those aiding Cochran.

Local coordinators representing hundreds of tea party groups from across the country overwhelmingly approved the censure initiative Sunday night in a national conference call.

A vote would create a political bind for GOP leaders. Each Republican state chairman plus each state’s national committeemen and committeewomen form the RNC, which is the governing body of the Republican Party. Rather than treating abuses as simply a Mississippi matter, the effort requires national leaders to accept accountability, says Tea Party Patriots national coordinator Jenny Beth Martin.

“This trashing of the tea party involved establishment Republicans at the highest levels,” said Mrs. Martin. “They used scorched-earth tactics, the dirtiest of campaigning, and probably broke several laws in the process.

“They showed how Washington does whatever it takes to hang onto power, and America is appalled by it. And it happens in both political parties.

“This time the national Republican Party is getting what they want, but they can’t wash their hands now and say it doesn’t matter how they got it. Either they condemn how it was done or they must accept responsibility.”

Cochran’s opponent, state Sen. Chris McDaniel, was considered a tea party Republican. He led the original primary but has yet to concede his narrow runoff loss as he investigates voting irregularities and alleged campaign law violations.

Already revealed have been massive expenditures by so-called independent groups that aided Cochran with “robo-calls,” radio ads and printed flyers that linked the tea party with the Ku Klux Klan, general racism, and efforts to suppress black voters. Allegedly, these were paid by a group that failed to register and disclose information as required by federal and state laws, plus distributed anonymous handouts with racist accusations.

Additional large expenditures allegedly involved “walking-around money” paid through black churches to get them to back Cochran.

McDaniel says he is gathering proof he can take to court that the number of illegal votes cast exceeded Cochran’s 6,700-vote margin of victory, thanks to an estimated 35,000 cross-over Democrats. Under state law, only if they had not voted in their party’s June 3 primary were Democrats eligible to vote in Mississippi’s June 24 GOP runoff.

The author is a national board member of Tea Party Patriots.

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