Politics

 

Tea Party's Mississippi Mudslide

The Tea Party’s most credible challenger of an incumbent this election cycle is now facing stinging criticism from within his own inner circle.

Former co-workers of Chris McDaniel, who is taking on longtime Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran, are going public with their descriptions of the candidate as “very selfish” and a “pathological narcissist,” and questioning his lavish spending on sports tickets and friends while pursuing a lawsuit for a family member.

McDaniel, who is backed by major outside groups like Club for Growth and the Senate Conservatives Fund, has long been considered the Tea Party’s best hope to knock off an incumbent Republican senator in a primary this cycle. McDaniel’s poll numbers, though, have lagged recently as audio from his career as a right-wing radio host has been unearthed, featuring a series of racially charged and otherwise controversial comments.

While McDaniel’s comments on his radio show have raised eyebrows, his interactions with co-workers during his legal career are now also raising questions about the Senate hopeful’s temperament as well.

With the exception of a stint working for a plaintiff’s attorney in Hattiesburg named Mike Sims, McDaniel has spent most of his legal career at Hortman Harlow, a Laurel, Mississippi-based firm that mostly does defense-side work. While there, McDaniel’s behavior left one former law partner, Dave Martindale, aghast, particularly in regard to his handling of a personal-injury lawsuit brought by his cousin, Billy Jack McDaniel, an oil rig worker.

According to Martindale, McDaniel was spending huge amounts of money on the case, including traveling around the country to meet with experts in cities where McDaniel “wanted to see professional ballgames,” as well as hiring friends in San Antonio to serve as local counsel on the case. The problem with that: The suit was being heard 200 miles away in Houston.

Martindale said Hortman Harlow dismissed him from the firm for repeatedly raising concerns about expenditures on the case, which eventually was settled for more than $7 million. He also lost out on his share of that settlement as well as reimbursement for costs paid out of his pocket on the case.

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