They always say, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.”
But for former House District 122 candidate Joe Mullins, he’s not that lucky.
Two days after receiving only 15 percent of the votes cast in Columbia County’s House race, Mullins jumped on a plane headed to Las Vegas.
The purpose of the trip was to attend the St. Jude Against All Odds Celebrity Poker Tournament benefitting the children’s research hospital.
However, during his five-day trip to Vegas, Mullins had something else on his mind.
Specifically, a 25-year-old local bartender named Madeline.
Even though he was heard having a phone conversation with the bartender in the Metro Spirit office with three journalists present who clearly recognized his voice on the line, Mullins denies the existence of the conversation, or the numerous texts and Facebook messages he appears to have sent her over the past several days.
“I have no clue who that is,” Mullins said when asked about Madeline. “I don’t even control my Facebook messages. I have no clue what she is talking about. I am not in the political realm. The election is over and it’s been a joke with what has all gone on.”
But screenshots of the Facebook messages and texts seem to be telling a different story.
Less than one hour after boarding a plane in Charlotte on Nov. 7, Mullins allegedly began sending Facebook messages to this 25-year-old woman named Madeline who he claimed to have previously met at her workplace.
“Supposedly, he said he had been to my job before,” Madeline said, laughing and shaking her head. “I don’t remember him honestly. I see faces all the time at work, but he said he wanted his friend to hook us up.”
Madeline wasn’t at all interested in the 45-year-old Mullins.
But when she randomly received a Facebook friend request from Mullins, she and her roommate immediately recognized his name as the former candidate in the House race.
Christine Rhodes, the daughter of WGAC talk show host Austin Rhodes.
Needless to say, Mullins had picked the wrong pretty face to pursue on Facebook.
Madeline decided to accept Mullins’ friend request just to see what would happen. The Metro Spirit agreed to use only her first name in the story.
Not long after Madeline accepted Mullins’ Facebook request, he began bombarding her with messages on Nov. 7.
At first the messages from Mullins were simply questions about her job and whether she enjoyed it.
Quickly, the conversation turned to possible career opportunities Mullins might have for Madeline with one of his nine companies.
“I may want to interview you? If your (sic) interested,” Mullins wrote in a Facebook message. “I own several businesses there. We have openings in the property mgmt. As leasing manager. And one in entertainment. As event coordinator. And admin./personal assist. I own commercial property / sports and entertainment agent / and a politician. I have a few jobs. Lol.”
Mullins then suggested that she should join him in Las Vegas and he could “interview” her.
“I just thought that was so weird,” Madeline said. “I mean, you just don’t contact random girls on Facebook and ask them to go work for you and meet you in Vegas.”
Over the past few months, Mullins frequently praised “the glory of Christ” for giving him the strength to endure the House District 122 race.
“As long as you walk with the Lord, you will be able to do great things,” Mullins wrote on his Facebook page the Sunday before the Nov. 3 election.
He also praised the support of his family throughout the campaign.
“My family, friends and most of all my faith have kept me strong and focused on my calling,” Mullins wrote on his Facebook page on Oct. 25.
But, as Mullins continued messaging Madeline, his intentions became all too clear.
At first, Mullins began asking Madeline whether she was married or had any kids.
When Madeline told Mullins she was single, he began asking her to send him photos of herself.
He told her he was trying to decide which photo of her on Facebook was his favorite.
“Send me your top 3,” Mullins wrote.
As Mullins continued to ask Madeline about her different interests, such as whether she liked country music, he seemed to be scanning her Facebook page and appeared to get a little nervous.
“If I say something wrong tell me and I will apologize quick,” Mullins wrote. “Talking about that stupid boy’s text u put up about screwing all the girls where u work. Lol.”
Mullins explained that he needed to be careful.
“Me being in politics it can be an issue,” Mullins wrote. “Just covering my ass. lol.”
Mullins insisted he knew how to treat a lady.
“While I can be stupid at times I am far from a boy. Ha!” he wrote. “I know how to treat a woman / lady.”
“It’s easy,” Mullins added. “Your (sic) good to them their (sic) good to you. Ok so let me see your top 3 or 5 pics.”
He then sends Madeline his cell phone number and asks her to text him because he was about to switch planes in Dallas, Texas.
“It got weirder and weirder as the day went on,” Madeline said, adding that he then began texting her and sending her photos from Vegas. “I had never even spoken to this guy.”
After checking into his Vegas hotel on Thursday evening, Mullins continued to flirt with Madeline.
“By the way your pics are fine as hell!” Mullins texted her and then realized he might have crossed the line. “Uh oh is that gonna get posted?”
He again asked Madeline if she would send him some photos of herself.
“So you ever going to send me those pics?” Mullins asked. “I could use some sexy beauty to look at.”
Madeline jokingly sent him a photo of her at work
“It was a picture of just my face,” Madeline said.
Apparently, Mullins was extremely impressed.
“I love what I see. Send more,” he wrote. “Actually just let me fly u here.”
When Madeline joked that she would consider it, Mullins began to press on.
“Send me the other half of you,” Mullins wrote. “I love the latest pics of you.”
When Madeline didn’t respond, Mullins began to get more graphic.
“So send me some more pics. I especially remember a great butt,” he wrote.
Madeline told him she was working and couldn’t continue to text or message him.
“I’m coming to get you. Rescue you!” Mullins wrote. “Come to me! I will take you on the best date of your life.”
“You should let me fly you to Vegas sometime,” Mullins added, first sending her a photo of a red Ferrari and then a white Lamborghini he was driving around at 1:30 a.m. on Friday morning.
By 10:35 a.m. on Friday morning, Mullins wrote, “Good morning beautiful.”
Madeline decided it was time to ask Mullins some specific questions.
“So you know how you asked me if I was married or had kids… Do you?” she wrote.
Mullins immediately responded by saying, “Yes kids. Marriage separated.”
Throughout his campaign for the House seat over the past several months, Mullins was constantly bragging about the support of his beautiful wife.
Up until election day, the two were still frequently seen together during political events and functions.
Following his answer about his wife, Madeline didn’t respond for a while and Mullins began asking if she was all right.
She made up a story that she was in the shower.
That immediately got Mullins’ attention.
“Send me that pic,” he wrote. “Send that one!”
Madeline told him that she wouldn’t take a photo of herself in the shower.
“Take one,” Mullins wrote. “Or next time I will demand I be there when u do.”
At that point, Madeline was shocked by his direct comments towards her.
“I wanted to throw up,” she said. “It’s so creepy!”
Mullins told her that if she sent some photos, he would greatly “reward” her.
“Just send me some,” Mullins wrote. “I miss you.”
At that point, Madeline couldn’t help but laugh at Mullins’ comments.
“How do you miss me when we’ve never met?” Madeline said in the Metro Spirit office. “It was so pathetic.”
When Madeline asked how Mullins would “reward” her for photos, he asked, “What would make a girl like u happy?”
Then, Mullins suggested they go away together on a trip.
“How about a trip? Florida? Miami,” he wrote. “OK start sending pics and we will raise stakes as we go. Let’s have some Vegas fun. U can tell I’m gambling.”
Mullins began calling, trying to speak directly to Madeline, but she did not pick up the phone.
“Ok I’m not going to call if you can’t answer anymore,” he wrote.
But it didn’t take long before Mullins was again asking Madeline to send him some photos of herself.
“OK so what does it take to get a picture?” he asked, adding that “every girl” loves jewelry. “Send some pics then and we will plan an adventure.”
When Madeline again didn’t send the photos, Mullins was clearly disappointed.
“Well let me see,” he wrote. “How confident are you in being fun to hang out with.”
Madeline wrote Mullins that she was “lots of fun.”
“Obviously, I’m a bartender,” she responded. “I’m fun & easy to talk to.”
But Madeline asked Mullins how could she trust him.
“I see,” he wrote. “So you have nothing to worry about. Unless we really hit it off then I may sweep u away.”
By Saturday afternoon, Mullins tried to get Madeline’s attention by insisting that he bought her a “surprise” in Las Vegas.
When she asked what he got her, Mullins played coy.
“Called a surprise. My casino sponsor picked it out,” Mullins wrote. “So I guess that makes me your sponsor!”
Madeline asked what that meant, but Mullins didn’t say.
Instead, he simply asked, “So can I be your sponsor?”
At that point, Madeline said she was totally creeped out.
“He is like 20 years older than me,” she said. “When he started asking to be my ‘sponsor’ that’s when I stopped responding because things were getting too weird. It was like he wanted to be my sugar daddy or something. Gross!”
Even though Madeline stopped responding to him, Mullins continued to pursue her.
“Lots of fun on the way. Are you ready for it?” Mullins wrote. “You really need a trip out here. You would love it.”
Madeline did not respond to him at all Saturday evening or all day Sunday.
“Morning beautiful,” Mullins wrote on Sunday morning at 8:48 a.m.
By 1 p.m., he sent, “How are doing?”
When Madeline still didn’t respond, he seemed clearly disappointed.
“You disappeared on me,” he wrote at 9:46 p.m. on Sunday.
Then, around 12:30 a.m. on Monday, he again asked, “How are you doing?”
Madeline decided to come talk to the Metro Spirit about Mullins’ actions and his pursuit of her at 1 p.m. on that same Monday, Nov. 9.
As she was being interviewed by Metro Spirit staff members, Mullins texted her again.
While sitting in the Metro Spirit office, she decided to call him.
It would be their first actual conversation.
As soon as he picked up the phone and began talking, it was clear it was Mullins on the other end.
“What are you doing?” Madeline asked.
“Driving in from Charlotte,” he said, adding that he was getting lost trying to find the interstate in the rain. “I’m back and I’m ready to get home.”
Madeline apologized for not responding to any of his messages on Saturday evening and Sunday. She explained that she was having problems with a new phone.
Mullins immediately began telling her about the great time he had in Las Vegas.
“Vegas was fun,” he said. “My God, I won a ton of money there.”
Madeline asked what Mullins planned to do “with all of that money.”
“I am going to go have fun,” Mullins said.
“What kind of fun?” Madeline asked.
“It’s time to have fun!” Mullins enthusiastically said. “I don’t know. Let’s go have some fun.”
Madeline told him she didn’t have to work that night.
“Well, shoot, we ought to get a drink or something tonight if you’ve got time,” he said.
Madeline said she might have a family commitment, but that she would check and get back to him.
“See if you can and let’s look at that and we’ll talk about what to do,” Mullins said. “With all this stuff, I just need a break. This election was very stressful, very brutal.”
Then, Mullins hinted at another possible run for the House District 122 seat in the future.
“I have another part of it coming next year,” Mullins said, referring to the House race. “This was a short-term election. They almost say you don’t want to win it. You want to go into the next one. But I’ve got to get my house situation straight.”
Mullins then began discussing his marriage and the importance of getting his house in order.
“Now that I’m not in the spotlight, I am going to step back from it a little bit and I have time to get it straight before I go right back into it again,” Mullins said, referring to another election. “When you go through stuff publicly, it is not fun.”
Mullins told Madeline that this year’s campaign took a great deal out of him.
“I make good money. I do a lot in my life. I enjoy it. I am in an incredible industry. I have everything I could possibly want. I just want to be happy,” Mullins said. “I want the person with me to be happy. I can buy the world for anybody, but that ain’t going to make them happy. They also have to enjoy the company.”
Madeline asked Mullins why the campaign was so difficult.
“It was a nasty race. Nasty. Nasty,” Mullins said, sighing. “Just all this personal stuff.”
Madeline then steered the conversation toward something much lighter.
“So are you going to tell me what my surprise is that you got for me in Vegas?” Madeline asked.
“You are going to have to wait and see. I can’t tell you,” Mullins said, adding that she will have to meet him in person to get the surprise. “You’ll like it.”
“I will?” Madeline asked.
“You are going to like it,” Mullins assured her.
Little did Mullins know that Madeline had a surprise of her own.
“I just can’t believe there are guys like that out there,” Madeline said, as she hung up the phone. “It’s just so gross.”
But, despite all of the evidence proving the contrary, Mullins completely denied any association with Madeline.
“I’ve been with my wife in Vegas all weekend. I was with my wife,” Mullins insisted. “This is a continuation of the craziness that has gone on and she is probably a week late with the election being over. I have no clue who it is. All of this stuff really needs to stop. This has just gotten ridiculous.”