LifeZette has obtained evidence that supporters of Donald Trump and Ted Cruz in Mississippi have been threatened with possible arrest should they refuse to elect pro-Establishment delegates to the state’s GOP convention on April 23.
The astonishingly anti-democratic threat was stated explicitly in a text sent to a senior figure in the Mississippi Trump campaign by Joe Nosef, Chairman of the Mississippi Republican Party and Gov. Phil Bryant’s former chief of staff.
“The bottom line is is [sic] I told you this can happen one of two ways,” Nosef’s menacing text reads. Either “we work together and include people that we trust and also happen to be Trump and Cruz supporters or we just put whoever we want on there have a big fight and end up in the contest committee in Cleveland,” it says.
“And like I told you I can promise my cousin and anybody else if they even so much as raise their voice they’re going to be outside in the parking lot and they won’t be back in and no I won’t be removing them somebody with a gun and a badge will be,” Nosef continued.
LifeZette has also confirmed with the Mississippi Trump campaign that the text is legitimate and was indeed received by one of their team; however, local campaign chairman Mitch Tyner has refused to comment.
The roughly 280 state convention delegates who will be elected April 23 go on to elect the delegates to the National Convention. Given that Gov. Bryant has endorsed Cruz, it’s possible these vicious, strong-arm tactics have been employed in Cruz’s favor; however the references to Cruz supporters suggest this is unlikely.
Instead it seems that Bryant and Nosef are working to ensure they have pro-Kasich or “White Knight” delegates prepared for a second or third ballot in Cleveland. Indeed, Bryant only endorsed Cruz in March, which suggests his endorsement was motivated more by anti-Trump feeling than support for Cruz’s brand of constitutional conservatism.
The text not only raises troubling questions about the state of democracy in Mississippi and the health of the state’s Republican party, but also indicates an uncomfortably close relationship between the Mississippi GOP and state police, and suggests that the Gov. Bryant may have given Nosef purview over law enforcement to ensure pro-Establishment delegates are elected.
Nosef’s cousin referred to in the text is state Senator Chris McDaniel, co-chairman of the Mississippi Cruz campaign. Former McDaniel campaign staffer Noel Fritsch alerted LifeZette to the existence of the threatening text message.
“Establishment Republicans in Mississippi will stop at nothing to keep conservatives out of the political process, whether it’s buying votes for Thad Cochran, or threatening to arrest conservatives with arrest for supporting Donald Trump or Ted Cruz,” Fritsch said.
“Under the leadership of Phil Bryant, Tate Reeves, and Speaker Gunn, Mississippi’s political process is nominally more free than your average banana republic dictatorship,” he continued.
“Governor Bryant should immediately call for Joe Nosef’s resignation, and more importantly, he should make it clear that the state police will not be used to silence dissent in Mississippi.”