JACKSON, Miss.–Just why three Tea Party staffers ended up locked inside the Hinds County courthouse election night is being explained by the McDaniel campaign as an accident. But, the sheriff’s department confirmed to media that they are investigating.
Election crews had left the building about 11:30 Tuesday night. Janis Lane, president of the Miss. Tea Party, had served as a poll worker and had left about 8:30.
About 12:30 Wednesday morning, Lane, along with Rob Chambers and Scott Brewster, returned and entered through a security door, which is normally locked and secured with an electronic scanner. That night it was propped open.
“With an extremely close election and Hinds being one of the last counties to report, our campaign sent people to the Hinds courthouse to obtain the outstanding numbers and observe the count,” said a statement from the McDaniel campaign.
“In doing so, they entered the courthouse through an open door after being directed by uniformed personnel. They were then locked inside the building. At this point, they sat down and called the county Republican chairman, a close Cochran ally, to help them get out. Eventually, a Sheriff’s officer showed up and opened the door to let them out.”
WAPT TV interviewed Pete Perry, Hinds County Republican Party chairman.
“She called me as I was getting out of my car and said that she was in the courthouse, locked in and couldn’t get out, and it took me a minute or two for that to register and exactly what she meant,” said Perry.
“Predictably, a close Cochran ally wants to make hay out of this. Sadly, the Cochran campaign wants to make this election about anything but issues. Mississippians deserve better than this sort of distraction politics,” said the McDaniel campaign.
Hinds County Sheriff’s Dept. spokesman Othor Cain told several media sourced that the ballots were locked away and they do not believe they were tampered with.