May 23rd, 2014
10:05 AM ET
9 years 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. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    Sure Benghazi or the IRS is not mentioned here. You people are complete idiots. It's been front and center since the night it happened when President Mittens decided he needed to make a statement. You people are willful liars just like those you worship at Faux Noise.

    Liberal News my eye.

    May 23, 2014 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  2. rude

    Yikes, CNN will now be vilified because Lord knows these Repubs did nothing wrong- Blame the media for one's stupidity is the norm.

    May 23, 2014 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  3. Jack33

    Republicans are pretty much admitting they are entirely corrupt at this point. Between their scandals of being caught by the FBI throwing out voter registration forms, tampering with electronic vioting, and trying to make it increasingly difficult for minority-areas of States to vote, while making it easier for republicans areas (NRA membership cards, anyone?), it's obvious they hate honest & free elections.

    May 23, 2014 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  4. Silence DoGood

    arosedozey- to refresh your obviously failing memory, Mrs. Clinton said the following, and this is a direct quote:

    "With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided that they'd they go kill some Americans? What difference at this point does it make? It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again, Senator. Now, honestly, I will do my best to answer your questions about this, but the fact is that people were trying in real time to get to the best information. The IC has a process, I understand, going with the other committees to explain how these talking points came out. But you know, to be clear, it is, from my perspective, less important today looking backwards as to why these militants decided they did it than to find them and bring them to justice, and then maybe we'll figure out what was going on in the meantime"

    How you got your interpretation from the above quote certainly must have involved some contorting.
    Contorting? I cannot be kind about this. They hear Rush or Hannity or one of the other "entertainers" mutter this nonsense and it doesn't dawn on them to spend 30 seconds (I tested it) to find the real quote. The problem is the conspiracy has not run it's other-worldly fantasy course:
    The reality (occam's razor) – initial assessment was wrong and this was clarified later
    1st version conspiracy – it was mismanaged
    2nd version conspiracy – it was lied about
    3rd version conspiracy – no one cared and they lied
    4th version conspiracy – they actually caused the deaths (see above)
    5th version conspiracy – they planned and caused the deaths
    6th version conspiracy – they planned the deaths in an attempt to set up an evil satanic socialist dictatorship
    7th version conspiracy – they planned the deaths in an attempt to set up an evil satanic socialist dictatorship with space alien help

    May 23, 2014 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  5. Robert constant

    It is about time they start rounding up these Republican criminals. From CNN published accounts there seem to be some serious ethical and perhaps criminal questions about the McConnell Republican primary as well. I wonder how long it will take for them to arrest him.

    May 23, 2014 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  6. yeahright

    I googled the two competers: looks like Cochran is a GOP and McDaniel is an X-GOP, running as a DEM on June 3rd primary. WOW, had to google to get that info.

    What right wing site did you have to go to in order to find McDaniel listed as a Dem? He's not. Never was.

    May 23, 2014 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  7. Noneya

    Funny to read the insane posts claiming CNN didn't cover the IRS "scandal", as much as this one...
    So in other words because CNN didn't help the deceivers on the right make scandals out of non-scandals, they are bias. NO, they are not bias... they just don't feed into the lie that is right-wing rhetoric. They prefer to cover REAL scandals.

    May 23, 2014 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  8. Bill from GA

    Bill- " Taking a picture... 20 years. "

    So, you would also be OK with them putting a camera under the wall of a dressing room and taking a picture of YOUR DAUGHTER?

    After all, it's just a picture.

    May 23, 2014 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |

    Of course McDaniel ordered it – this is Mississippi where anyone can get away with anything.

    May 23, 2014 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  10. scarf


    I googled the two competers: looks like Cochran is a GOP and McDaniel is an X-GOP, running as a DEM on June 3rd primary. WOW, had to google to get that info.

    What right wing site did you have to go to in order to find McDaniel listed as a Dem? He's not. Never was.

    Actually, there's an allegation by a conservative PAC in Mississippi that McDaniel voted in the Democratic primary in 2003. Whether that's true or not, I don't think that would make him out to be a Democrat.

    May 23, 2014 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  11. Vence

    I love when these vicious animals turn into each other!

    May 23, 2014 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  12. Matthew

    If there's one thing I can get behind, it's corrupt politicians and political activists being caught and cashiered. Especially ridiculous ultra left wingers and ultra right wingers. My only concern is that, if we were to investigate political corruption and misdeeds full-time, society would probably have no time to do anything else. Every time a corrupt politician or political hack gets caught, and angel gets her wings.

    May 23, 2014 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  13. sly

    "Benghazi is a typical story of a murder that is made legal"
    House Republicans murdered 4 Americans in Benghazi. Our President demanded increased security funding for that particular embassy. Republicans voted it down. Their quote: "We dont have money for increasing security there".

    Same Republicans who cut funding for the VA, which may have led to a few veterans dying. No money, no health care fools.

    May 23, 2014 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  14. yeahright

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


    C'mon Sniffit, you already know the answer to that question.

    May 23, 2014 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  15. vidal808

    These individuals (republicans) are sure an inspiration for the voters to go out and vote in November. If they don't get off their duffs and go to the polls then they deserve what they get!

    May 23, 2014 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  16. 1alien1

    the republicans cannot control themselves. the dems should not have to spend a dime on re elections, the repubs are winning it for them with their imoral acts

    May 23, 2014 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  17. Thomas

    And to think Reince Priebus and the NRC supports this behavior .

    Not one republican will stand up against this low discussing act , why ?

    Ann Coulter blames democrats and liberals for inventing a conspiracy over allegations .

    May 23, 2014 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
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