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. Sniffit

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

    May 23, 2014 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  2. Rick McDaniel

    Incredible stupidity.

    May 23, 2014 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  3. 2L

    Please make an example of these fools!!

    May 23, 2014 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  4. Tampa Tim

    In another story, it appears that billionaire donors have pointed out to Karl Rove, that the $800 million they gave him to spend on campaign lies, was not his to keep for his personal use.

    May 23, 2014 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  5. Chip

    This Country seriously needs a viable third party which is just not a spin-off of the Clowns Network that operate within both parties. THEN there needs to be the capacity to remove any elected person, regardless of party who breaks and loosed confidence of the electorate.

    May 23, 2014 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  6. JIMMY

    Weren't we lectured by CNN when the Yeland Lee ARREST happened that they didn't cover it because it was a local story? How exactly is this different? Oh you are left wing democrat/progressive advocates. Thats why no one in their right mind gets news from CNN. The most fake name in news, biased beyond repair. FOX NEWS RULES.

    May 23, 2014 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  7. conoclast

    Move along folks, it's just another garden-variety right-wing psychotic, doing what right-wing psychotics do best.

    May 23, 2014 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  8. Tony D

    A blogger and a TEACHER huh??? What party do teachers support 99.99% of the time? Democrats. I am thinking these guys were trying to get the weak Tea Party guy to win in the primary so the Democrat would have an easier time in the general election. Demorcats have been doing this a lot, even sending the weak candiates money. Dirty Democrat tricks.

    May 23, 2014 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  9. lone wolf

    Is nothing sacred to the TeaParty!

    May 23, 2014 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  10. The Republican Party Is Dead To Me

    The creeps are playing dirty, there's no doubt about it. But if memory serves correctly they are getting their ideas from the republican think tank, where nothing is off limits or sacred. Just look at a creep named Carl.

    May 23, 2014 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  11. bcrunner

    They used to tell us about Chicago style politics making somehow the Democrats as the party of shady politics... But it appears to me the Republican party has become the king of shady politics... Have you heard what James O'Keefe is up to again lately? However, this time he was caught and taped....

    May 23, 2014 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  12. CrashMan

    Leave it to the Tea Party to do something so disgusting and disgraceful.

    May 23, 2014 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  13. herchato

    Just politics as usual folks.

    May 23, 2014 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  14. GreyMan

    The bar has been moved again. We now have new battle rules for elections. Probably by 2016 there will be no ethics or rules regarding elections. It's going to be a free for all.

    May 23, 2014 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  15. Grego

    I may be a moderate right winger but these idiots need to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. If you can't play fair then it's time to take your kickball and go home.

    May 23, 2014 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  16. dutspup

    Repub's just cant seem to get it together, even against themselves LOL

    May 23, 2014 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  17. daveinla

    Just normal politics in America. Its a trashy business and Dems and GOP wallow in the muddy mire.

    May 23, 2014 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  18. mstipton

    We don't have this issue in my state. We have a democratic majority. The GOP will feed on anything including each other.

    May 23, 2014 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  19. hammerhead

    teachers ...who would of thunk it...

    May 23, 2014 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  20. ATLPeach

    Listen closely for the chirping of the birds!!! Somebody is going to start 'singing', and Senator McDaniel will be included in the lyrics! Like another poster said. . .who thought this was alright to do? Very unkind!!

    May 23, 2014 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  21. Tom Bukowski

    This is simply sick. Are these folks 14 years old?

    May 23, 2014 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  22. BarbaraGenie

    I am a staunch independent voter who leans Democrat. This is despicable behavior. How can anyone possibly think that this was the right thing to do? And, for those of you who don't read, this was a GOP primary - meaning both candidates were GOP. It's not a reflection on the party, it's a reflection on the stupidity of some people.

    May 23, 2014 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  23. Danny

    Oh how horrible! Somebody took a picture. Yeah, THAT'S worth 20 YEARS in prison! What's wrong with ALL OF YOU? Spend a MONTH in prison and THEN tell me how you feel about i!. Ridiculous!!!

    May 23, 2014 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  24. Rudy NYC

    Lies and deception, fear and hate mongering, these are the ways of the right side.

    May 23, 2014 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  25. JY

    Wow.... tell me this is an Onion article

    May 23, 2014 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
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