A Mississippi tea party official with close ties to U.S. Senate candidate Chris McDaniel apparently ended up inside a locked and empty county courthouse late Tuesday night after primary election results had come in. Hinds County Republican executive chairman Pete Perry told TPM that he received a phone call around 2:00 a.m. CT on Wednesday from Janis Lane, president of the Central Mississippi Tea Party, who said she was locked inside the Hinds County courthouse. That would be where the circuit clerk and election commission offices, and the primary election ballots, are located. The incident seemed to mystify Perry, a supporter of Sen. Thad Cochran, whom McDaniel is challenging for the GOP nomination. The ballots had been secured prior to the intrusion, according to local authorities.
“I don’t know. I know I wouldn’t walk into a courthouse at 2 o’clock in the morning by myself or with somebody else and just walk around inside the building,” Perry said. “I’m not going to go into a public building just because somehow or another I happened to find a door that was unlocked.
“Especially if it’s going down to where a bunch of election materials were and I’d been deeply involved in a campaign,” he added. “I am 64. I was involved in politics when I was real young, and I remember people breaking into a hotel in the middle of the night.”
Connie Cochran, a sister-in law to Sen. Thad Cochran and one of the county’s election commissioners, told TPM that she left the courthouse at 11:30 p.m. CT, the last person to leave, more than two hours before Lane called Perry.