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June 27, 2014 2:24 PM Guilt By Association

By Ed Kilgore

Sorry if you’re tired of me writing about Mississippi, folks; frankly, I’ve been tired of reading and writing about the issues of Mississippi conservatives for decades now. But since these issues persist, and are prominent in the news, I want to make sure we all understand them.

I’ve been arguing since Tuesday night that Chris McDaniel and his entire movement-conservative set of backers need to make up their minds toot sweet whether there’s evidence of actual illegal activity by the Cochran campaign, and then put up or shut up. Otherwise all the talk about “stolen elections” and “liberal Democrats deciding a Republican primary” and so on and so forth is going to look like a big cup of sour grapes laced with racism.

There’s a good example today from National Review’s Eliana Johnson, who’s penned a long piece dripping with insinuation about a veteran Atlanta consultant and Baptist minister named Mitzi Bickers, whose firms received $44,000 in super-PAC money to help the Cochran campaign GOTV operation with robocalls and maybe some live calls. And that is all we learn about Bickers’ activities in Mississippi. We hear a lot about her “checkered past” in Georgia, which despite Johnson’s efforts to make her sound like Boss Tweed, apparently never involved any criminal or civil charges other than an ethics complaint from a single voter (which I’m assuming went nowhere, or Johnson would have told us). We also hear a lot about a robocall that riled up Tea Folk by accusing them of behaving disrespectfully towards Barack Obama (a charge to which you’d think they’d plead happily guilty). Since both the Cochran campaign and the Super-PAC distributing the money denied Bickers had anything to do with this ad, and Johnson offers no evidence to the contrary, it’s not clear what the ad (which, of course, was in no way illegal) is doing in this piece.

It’s reasonably clear that the idea here is to hold out Bickers (who, Johnson feels compelled to tell us, is gay, which spurs all kinds of nastiness in the comment thread) as the kind of person (you know, one of those people) with whom Thad Cochran’s campaign associated itself. Since there’s no shred of evidence in the piece of any illegal activity, it’s mostly a testament to the idea that doing business with African-American political operatives is (if you will excuse the impression) beyond the pale, and the Cochran campaign’s real sin.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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