May 23rd, 2014
10:05 AM ET
7 months ago

Three more charged in Mississippi GOP primary scandal

Updated 1:41 p.m. ET, 5/23/14

(CNN) – Police charged three more men in connection to the blogger who's been accused of taking a picture of Sen. Thad Cochran's wife in her nursing home bed and creating a political video against the longtime senator from Mississippi.

Authorities on Thursday arrested Mark Mayfield, an attorney and local tea party leader, and Richard Sager, an elementary school P.E. teacher and high school coach, according to The Clarion-Ledger newspaper. Police also charged a third individual, John Beachman Mary, but did not take him into custody because of "extensive medical conditions."

All three face conspiracy charges, the newspaper reported.

The scandal has escalated tensions in already ugly Republican primary fight in which Cochran faces a fierce challenge from the right by state Sen. Chris McDaniel. Both will compete in the June 3 primary.

The latest developments come a week after political blogger Clayton Kelly was arrested for obtaining an image of Cochran's wife, who suffers from dementia and has lived in a nursing home for 14 years.

The photo surfaced in a political attack ad on YouTube that aimed to smear Cochran, the Clarion-Ledger reported. It is unclear how the photo was used because the ad was removed within hours of being posted, according to the newspaper. Authorities added felony charges of conspiracy and photo voyeurism to the count of exploitation of a vulnerable adult that Kelly was charged with, the newspaper reported. He faces a total of 20 years in prison.

McDaniel's camp has fiercely denied any involvement in the plot, and so far there has been no tangible evidence that links the campaign directly to Kelly.

"As we have said since day one, the violation of the privacy of Mrs. Cochran is out of bounds for politics and is reprehensible," McDaniel said in a statement about the arrests on Thursday. "Any individuals who were involved in this crime should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."

Cochran's team argues the McDaniel campaign changes its "story virtually every day, sometimes multiple times per day."

"The arrests yesterday, including Chris McDaniel's former radio show co-host, raises even more questions the McDaniel campaign needs to answer," spokesman Jordan Russell said.

Russell was referring to John Beachman Mary, who started co-hosting a WMXI radio program after McDaniel left the program when he was elected to the state Senate. But McDaniel continued to take part in the show as a guest host and regularly co-hosted with Mary, according to the Clarion-Ledger.

In an open letter Wednesday, McDaniel blasted Cochran and accused his campaign of resorting "to shameful slander" for raising questions without a "shred of evidence to back up those accusations."

CNN's Ashley Killough, Conor Finnegan and Tim McCaughan contributed to this report.


Filed under: Congress • Mississippi • Senate • Thad Cochran
soundoff (117 Responses)
  1. street smart

    If the Party Of Family Values isnt authorizing 1 billion $ to Ken Starr to sniff thru dirty laundry for Clintons C-man stains they are harassing old people with dementia. And they wonder why Independents run from them

    May 23, 2014 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  2. Bill

    Am I missing something?

    I see a lot of outrage. I see some arrests. I see high prison sentences awaiting people...

    I just don't see a horrible crime.

    He took a picture of somebody. Yes, that person is incapacitated, but, so was Terry Shaivo... and yet we see no shortage of pictures of her. Paparazzi take pictures of people without their permission all the time. Then tabloids take those pictures and tell whatever 1/2 truth they feel like telling.

    20 YEARS in prison for taking a picture?

    Armed Robbery: 3-9 years.
    Average RAPE sentence: 11.4 years

    Taking a picture... 20 years.

    May 23, 2014 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  3. Al-NY,NY

    Sniffit
    I hear they like pretty mouths in Mississippi prisons....
    ---

    that's "purty mouths" and these nitwits deserve time. they won't though

    May 23, 2014 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  4. Skarphace

    Danny: "Oh how horrible! Somebody took a picture."

    Let somebody take a picture of your loved one in her home and let me know how you feel. If this was a Democrat and not one of your beloved Tea Party buddies, you would be up in arms and blaming Obama and Hillary.

    May 23, 2014 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  5. Skarphace

    Bill: "Am I missing something? I just don't see a horrible crime."

    It is called invasion of privacy. If you would be ok with somebody setting up a hidden camera in your home and watching you and your loved ones without your permission, then you should be ok with this.

    May 23, 2014 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  6. Johnnie

    Didn't the person that filmed Romney in the 2012 election do it illegally? I must have missed that prosecution and 20 year prison term.

    May 23, 2014 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  7. 1776usa2016

    Arresting leaders of the Tea Party !!

    YES !! This is a GOOD thing !!

    .

    May 23, 2014 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  8. Greg

    Their Senator sure has a lot of influence in Mississippi.

    May 23, 2014 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  9. Silence DoGood

    @Bill "20 YEARS in prison for taking a picture?"
    ------------–
    "Authorities added felony charges of conspiracy and photo voyeurism to the count of exploitation of a vulnerable adult that Kelly was charged with"

    I know that exploitation of the vulnerable doesn't seem like a big deal to conservatives but for the rest of us, it matters. Petition your representatives if you want a change in the law.

    New conspiracy theory in the making!!! Thanks Bill: Obama is arresting people for taking pictures!

    May 23, 2014 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  10. Beth

    How obscene taking a picture of such a sick woman. I don't care how they vote either, that's for wusses. Give them all long terms in jail.

    May 23, 2014 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  11. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    I agree with Bill. 20 years for taking a picture is insane. I don't even see this as a prosecutable offense. However I do see it as quite pathetic and no one I would ever vote for. And it does shed light on the Party of family values...

    May 23, 2014 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  12. Larry B.

    If these guys are convicted perhaps they could be sentenced and carried out in Tennessee. Tenn. has just reinstated the electric chair as a form of carrying out the death sentence, if that's the sentence. It would be fitting and just for them to meet their maker via "Ol' Sparky". It also would warm them up nicely for the Hell they'll surely face in the afterlife. "Have a seat, Son. We got Ol' Sparky all warmed up for your trip.

    May 23, 2014 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  13. ohioan

    The Tea Party – party of fear, intolerance, hate, and Sarah Palin.

    May 23, 2014 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  14. sixthromeo

    Enter into public service and your family has no right to privacy because you sign it away. It isn't like they had film of the woman getting a sponge bath or of the senator taking a shower.

    May 23, 2014 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  15. ToldUso

    It's immoral politics now, but how soon before the Teapubs turn to bomb vests?

    May 23, 2014 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  16. Dave

    Republicans have real scandals.

    May 23, 2014 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  17. Yakobi

    Wow, Tea Party supporters acting like baseless democrats. No wonder they're losing all the primaries.

    May 23, 2014 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  18. roger

    I wonder how come this "scandal" gets more coverage than the IRS scandal, Benghazi, or the VA scandal.

    May 23, 2014 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  19. Excuses

    Love how many posters are making excuses for these bozos. Like its justifies their actions....warped twisted values...

    May 23, 2014 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  20. August

    ohioan......please look at the last few years of the dem party and rethink your comments.
    Fear, intolerance, and hate...pretty well define what the dem party has been conducting for quite some time.

    Sarah Palin...I don't think she was Tea Party...but she is something else. LOL Gotta give you that one.

    May 23, 2014 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  21. faboge

    let them die a natural death! America now knows what that "tea" was made of!

    May 23, 2014 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  22. 'Nother-Son-'O-Ursus_Rexx

    Re: “…Authorities on Thursday arrested Mark Mayfield, an attorney and local tea party leader, and Richard Sager, an elementary school P.E. teacher and high school coach, according to The Clarion-Ledger newspaper. Police also charged a third individual, John Beachman Mary, but did not take him into custody because of "extensive medical conditions.
    All three face conspiracy charges, the newspaper reported. "

    Does this latest episode of ‘republicanism’ arrive via the Republican Party’s ‘compassionate conservative(s)’ policies??

    Or is it merely another outbreak, (like their ‘Iraq, L.L.C.’), pillaging, ‘N profiteering saga...
    Of 'plausibly denied' criminality, resulting in further…
    ‘Collaterals, damaged, (Sen. Thad Cochran, his wife & family), statistics, per their ‘family-values-/-long-lost-cultural-war-mandate’??

    I’ve been voting since before Jimmy carter;
    I’ve NEVER voted for any republican, ‘cos I just DON’T (morally) approve of their so-called culture war nonsense, among MNAY other issues!

    November, 2014 & November, 2016, are, (in political terms), right ‘round the corner!
    A stone’s throw, down the road…
    It DOESN’T look like I’ll be voting for (any) republicans, in the foreseeable future!

    May 23, 2014 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  23. daveinla

    Seems like lots of people from the left are saying this is a problem of the right. The problem is systemic in both parties. Politics in America is a business for scoundrels. There are no "good guys", just a bunch of bottom feeders. Its why our nation is going down the drain.

    May 23, 2014 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  24. Sniffit

    "I just don't see a horrible crime."

    Breaking and entering into the nursing home where she lives in order to take those pictures (among other things) doesn't strike you as criminal? The criminal charges aren't just about the pictures themselves...altho the acts of taking them and the purpose for which he tried to use them are completely disgusting.

    May 23, 2014 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  25. Sniffit

    "I wonder how come this "scandal" gets more coverage than the IRS scandal, Benghazi, or the VA scandal."

    This scandal: 1 article on the Ticker.

    The others you mention: multiple articles per day for months on the Ticker.

    Come on man...the conservative bubble can't be THAT opaque, can it?

    May 23, 2014 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
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