The chairman of the Missouri Republican party, Ed Martin, is calling on RNC chairman Reince Priebus to appoint a special committee comprised of RNC members to investigate racially divisive ads that aired in Mississippi’s Republican Senate primary between Thad Cochran and Chris McDaniel. Martin made the request in a letter to Priebus obtained by National Review Online, voicing concern that former RNC chairman Haley Barbour was behind the ads and that the tactics may have sullied the name of the RNC and Republicans generally.
An entity called Citizens for Progress, which is not registered with the Federal Election Commission, aired ads during the race claiming that McDaniel supporters had ties to the Ku Klux Klan and that the state senator, who is still challenging the outcome of the June 24 runoff, has a “racist agenda.”
They also warned that “‘if the Tea Party, with their racist ideas, win, we will be sent back to the ’50s and ’60s.” An article in the Daily Mail tried to trace the ads to a political-action committee founded by Haley Barbour and run by his nephew, Henry.
A robo-call whose origins have not been traced was also the subject of controversy. It targeted primarily African-American homes and urged citizens to vote for Cochran and to stand up against the Tea Party’s “disrespectful treatment of the country’s first African-American president.”
In his letter to Priebus, Martin zeroed in on Barbour’s potential support for the advertisements. “If one of our own members helped finance ads or robocalls that tarred Tea Partiers as a group as racists, I am sure that most RNC members would find that deeply offensive, indeed unacceptable,” he said. “We cannot object to the Left smearing conservatives with such labels if we do not rebuke those on our side who sink to such tactics.”
He asked that the committee investigate the origins of the ads in question and report back to RNC members on August 7, the day before the RNC’s general meeting on August 8.
McDaniel, meanwhile, continues to dispute the results of the election, which Cochran won by two points. His lawyer said yesterday that volunteers are reviewing all of the ballots cast in search of fraudulent votes and that the team is confident they will find the invalid votes necessary to force a redo of the runoff.