May 23rd, 2014
10:05 AM ET
8 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. The Real Tom Paine

    Wow. This just gets better and better. How anyone would think this was a good idea is beyond me.

    May 23, 2014 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  2. smith

    Glad to see the arrests being made, this type of behavior is getting out of control.

    May 23, 2014 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  3. Gurgyl

    -–so these republicans go to any length of conspiracy, nastiness to get elected and further mess this beautiful nation on earth. People need to understand. To understand these clandestine a you need Education–corn producing farmers can not understand but can improve if you tell them nicely. God bless the USA.

    May 23, 2014 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  4. much thunder...little rain

    sick sick people

    May 23, 2014 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  5. Steve, New York City

    They took a picture of the senator's wife in her nursing home bed?? Wow - not cool !!

    May 23, 2014 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  6. Tampa Tim

    Anyone surprised?

    May 23, 2014 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  7. wwf

    They will ask forgiveness and all will be good with their GOP world.

    May 23, 2014 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  8. Bill from GA

    " He faces a total of 20 years in prison. "

    Someone will find them a friendly judge. Everybody will get probation.

    Seen it all before.

    May 23, 2014 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  9. smith1

    and the repos keep eating their own. Love it Vote them out in November

    May 23, 2014 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  10. Sniffit

    Of course, CNN ignores that McDaniels has been lying about when and how he knew about this incident...and the inconsistencies in his statements/actions and the statements/actions of his staff that show there's more to his involvement than simply "innocent bystander".

    May 23, 2014 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  11. Marcus (from...?)

    Remember, the guy did sneak into a nursing home and took pictures of a woman who's been completely defenseless against any sort of invasion in her privacy for over a decade in order to smear her husband... for the good of the country and Constitution and people of the USA!!!
    Here's one hoping that he finds a judge who really loves to throw the book at guys like him... and his 'partners' in crime.

    May 23, 2014 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  12. rs

    Ahh, yes, "family values" and "Christianity" at work!

    May 23, 2014 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  13. Sniffit

    "Wow. This just gets better and better. How anyone would think this was a good idea is beyond me.

    Check out Mississississississsssssippi's education levels.

    May 23, 2014 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  14. Marcus (from...?)

    That's way below the belt!
    In fights, even in MMA ones, if a guy throw a punch below the belt 'accidentally' he's not disqualified immediately because there's always the presumption of innocence (or in this case, mistake).
    But this guy, or guys, did aim clearly at where they landed the strike!
    Throw the book at them!

    May 23, 2014 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  15. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    It amazes me that people continue to support these types...

    But that's what happens when you welcome extremists into your midst simply because you couldn't handle the results of an election....

    Carry on wing nuts. Carry on.😄😄😄😄

    May 23, 2014 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  16. Matt Grant

    I think it's hilarious. Not what happened to his wife, but the fact that the tea party people did it. This is like watching North Korea fight china...I don't care who wins, but it's fun to watch.

    May 23, 2014 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  17. don in albuquerque

    President Obama gave them the camera..........pass it on.

    May 23, 2014 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  18. don in albuquerque

    Pass it on and watch it end up on Faux News as the gospel truth.

    May 23, 2014 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  19. Thomas

    And Rand Paul say's nothing !

    May 23, 2014 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  20. sly

    Ah, so the Party of Stupid continues to eat itself. Thank you Republicans for giving America back to the progressives who are bringing us into the 20th century.

    May 23, 2014 11:25 am at 11:25 am |

    Interesting the street only goes ne way.

    May 23, 2014 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  22. Tony in Maine

    Just invoking their First Amendment rights to say and do anything as long as they wrap themselves in the Confederate battle flag. Bastards/

    May 23, 2014 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  23. Silence DoGood

    Note one of the arrested was a Tea Party Leader. Not a wanna-be but in the Tea Party as a Leader.
    It is interesting to note that after the Tea Party was taken over by the Radical Christians and Koch money, it got really immoral. I guess once you have entertained breaking the law, breaking the government and a violent take over, anything goes.

    May 23, 2014 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  24. rory

    The IRS scandal is worse.

    May 23, 2014 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  25. bigbendjc

    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.

    You and Chris Christe seem to have a Kelly problem!

    May 23, 2014 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
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