Chris McDaniel’s campaign filings raise questions as statewide candidates rack up nearly $5 million in four months

Spokesperson calls allegations ‘recent debunked falsities,’ criticizes Lt. Gov. Hosemann for filing complaint against McDaniel campaign
Published: May. 17, 2023 at 2:16 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - While most of Mississippi’s candidates for statewide office have raised nearly $5 million since January, an incumbent elected official and a political action committee question if Chris McDaniel has raised as much as he claims, and whether he did so legally.

McDaniel, a Republican state senator and candidate for lieutenant governor, claims to have raised more than $677,000 in just four months, but his incumbent challenger has asked the attorney general’s office to investigate McDaniel’s filings and contributions.

In a letter filed two weeks ago, legal counsel for Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann’s campaign claimed the political action committee Hold the Line had received two illegal campaign contributions totaling $465,000 from a corporation.

McDaniel serves as that PAC’s director.

Hold the Line then contributed that $465,000 to the Committee to Elect Chris McDaniel.

Hosemann’s campaign claims those contributions, which came from the American Exceptionalism Institute, Inc., violates Mississippi’s campaign finance laws prohibiting corporations from donating more than $1,000 a year to a candidate or PAC.

“Delbert ‘the Democrat’ Hosemann has spent the entirety of his political career undermining Republicans and advocating against conservative principles -- Delbert’s obsession with our campaign’s finance reports are a perfect example,” said McDaniel campaign spokesperson Nicole Tardif. “[Hosemann] is crying foul against free speech guaranteed protections found within the First Amendment and upheld through recent Supreme Court rulings that were considered some of the most significant conservative victories of the past decade.”

Tardif said the campaign refunded the money to avoid a “protracted legal distraction” from Hosemann’s campaign, but did not provide any reason why the contribution was still included on a campaign finance document filed May 10, which inflated McDaniel’s donations considerably.

A cursory search on the Secretary of State’s website found no record of a “statement of organization” for the Committee to Elect Chris McDaniel, which could also be a violation of state law because it would mean McDaniel accepted contributions through a committee that was not registered with the state.

Tardif said that statement had been filed more than a decade ago and implied the political motives of others led to that document disappearing.

“Senator McDaniel filed the statement of organization for his campaign committee when he first sought legislative office nearly 17 years ago,” Tardif said in a statement to WLBT. “Considering the recent debunked falsities lodged at the campaign from bureaucrats in Jackson, it’s of no surprise this long-standing document has somehow disappeared. It’s sad to see sitting policymaker, Delbert ‘the Democrat’ rely on political gamesmanship to avoid talking about the values and issues Mississippians hold dear.”

A 3 On Your Side analysis of campaign finance documents filed thus far by twenty-six statewide candidates shows nearly $4.9 million raised over the last four months.

Those candidates also spent an estimated $2.3 million through April 30.

Both numbers include McDaniel’s $465,000 contribution and disbursement (as a refund) because they’re listed in his most recent filing.

Gov. Tate Reeves has raised more than anybody else, collecting $1.7 million so far this year, while his challenger, Democrat Brandon Presley, has collected more than $1.4 million.

Six candidates have yet to raise any money toward their campaigns, at least officially, and one -- Robert Briggs, a candidate for Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce -- didn’t even file his campaign finance report by the May 10 deadline despite required to do so by law.

Candidate, Committee or PACOfficeAmount SpentAmount Raised
Brandon PresleyGovernor$519,732.62$1,404,787.99
David Hardigree for GovernorGovernor$0$0
Gwendolyn GrayGovernor$10,724.73$11,733.68
Tate for Governor (Tate Reeves)Governor$556,372.29$1,713,937.59
Witcher for Governor (John Witcher)Governor$8,724.17$21,326
Committee to Elect Chris McDanielLieutenant Governor$589,788.76$677,775.77
D. Ryan GroverLieutenant Governor$0$0
Delbert HosemannLieutenant Governor$371,092.83$192,836.41
Shane QuickLieutenant Governor$0$0
Tiffany LonginoLieutenant Governor$500$690
Greta Martin for AGAttorney General$18,210.43$39,392.27
Lynn FitchAttorney General$145,823.36$226,167.97
Committee to Elect Michael WatsonSecretary of State$22,883.18$143,625
Shuwaski YoungSecretary of State$4,984.76$5,231.35
Friends of Shad WhiteState Auditor$67,198.21$294,248.44
Friends to Elect Larry G. BradfordState Auditor$149$199
Addie GreenTreasurer$825$826
David McRae CampaignTreasurer$12,570.60$78,923.51
Committee to Elect Bethany HillCommissioner of Agriculture and Commerce$314.35$830
Committee to Elect Robert BradfordCommissioner of Agriculture and Commerce$4,818.97$6,641.25
Friends of Andy GipsonCommissioner of Agriculture and Commerce$21,710.64$75,305.30
Robert BradfordCommissioner of Agriculture and Commerce$2,372.12$0
Robert BriggsCommissioner of Agriculture and CommerceNothing filedNothing filed
Terry Rogers IICommissioner of Agriculture and Commerce$400.36$470
Bruce BurtonCommissioner of Insurance$0$0
Mike Chaney CampaignCommissioner of InsuranceFiled Report ofTermination
Mitch YoungCommissioner of Insurance$500$500

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