We're getting a better picture of Republican state Sen. Chris McDaniel's fiscal principles in his campaign for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Senator Thad Cochran who has not yet announced whether he will seek reelection.

As former Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, when Mississippi has asked for federal funding, Cochran has delivered. McDaniel, backed by the Tea Party and groups like FreedomWorks and Club for Growth, is campaigning against such service and declared in his announcement speech, "The age of appropriations must end." McDaniel wants more fiscal discipline and the groups supporting him oppose Cochran's work which they deem "pork."

But in a recent online live chat hosted by the Clarion Ledger, McDaniel elaborated on his principles, which seems to contrast with his message.

When asked whether he opposed the hundreds of millions of federal dollars our congressional delegation (including Cochran) sends to our universities, McDaniel said he would need to look at each project but he didn't consider it a waste of taxpayer money.

When asked whether he would have supported the Katrina relief bill Cochran pushed in 2005, McDaniel said the government needs to help its citizens in a disaster.

When asked if he had supported tax incentives or government loans to benefit job creating industry, he said he had done so based on their merits.

Between university funding, Katrina recovery and approving projects on their merits, McDaniel goes a long way in giving his stamp of approval to much of the "pork" Cochran has been criticized for funding in Mississippi. So where does he draw the line?

McDaniel said in the chat at ClarionLedger.com, "for every project Thad has brought home, Mississippi taxpayers are paying for many more wasteful projects across the country. I do not believe Mississippi taxpayers want to pay for the Bridge to Nowhere in Alaska or an art museum in Nebraska or a rain forest in Iowa."

Mississippi receives more federal funding than it pays in federal taxes, so it isn't true that Mississippi taxpayers are paying for projects across the country. Maybe voters in other states should be upset they're paying for projects here, but they aren't voting in this election.

McDaniel blames Cochran for wasteful spending on an art museum in Nebraska. That might be a better attack if McDaniel was running for Senate in Nebraska. It would certainly be a better criticism had McDaniel not himself voted to fund, through debt, an art museum in Mississippi. Actually, McDaniel voted to fund several museums in Mississippi.

In 2009, McDaniel voted for a bond bill - debt spending - which included authorization for $1 million for the Ohr-O'Keefe Museum of Art in Biloxi; $1 million for the Mississippi Museum of Art in Jackson; $2 million for the Mississippi History Museum; $1 million for the Mississippi Museum of Natural History; $500,000 each for the BB King Museum, Seafood History Museum and the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame; $250,000 for the Amory Regional Museum; and $1.3 million for the Jackson and Hattiesburg zoos.

McDaniel's vote authorized the State of Mississippi to go into debt to spend millions on museums. It isn't that his vote troubles me or that these projects don't pass merit to me, it is that they don't meet McDaniel's standards. It is hard to claim the mantle of consistent conservative when you're that inconsistent; and hard to campaign on your principles when you make that many exceptions.

McDaniel continued in the online chat, "in the Mississippi state Senate, earmarks are often hidden in bond bills, which I have voted against many times, because our bonded indebtedness is too high and we simply can't afford it. For example, building museums in the middle of a recession makes little sense."

It is true McDaniel has voted against many bond bills. It is also true he voted to increase the state's bonded indebtedness in order to build museums in the middle of a recession.

Let me be clear, I'm not criticizing this vote by McDaniel; McDaniel is criticizing this vote by McDaniel.

I know and like Chris McDaniel and appreciate the bold votes and smart legislation he has pushed in the state Senate. But I don't support misguided criticism of Cochran's service to Mississippi.

I don't begrudge McDaniel his opportunity to challenge Cochran in a primary. But when he campaigns on fiscal principles which he himself has not honored, yet criticizes Cochran for doing the same, he seems less like the principled conservative I've known him to be, and more like a stereotypical Washington politician.

Cochran and McDaniel are both conservative Republicans. They've both made votes to applaud and to oppose. Both have issues that can be reasonably criticized. But for McDaniel to criticize Cochran for increasing the federal debt when he himself has increased the state debt is a bit hypocritical.

Brian Perry is a columnist for the Madison County Journal and a partner with Capstone Public Affairs, LLC. Reach him at reasonablyright@brianperry.ms or @CapstonePerry on Twitter.