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

    "Didn't the person that filmed Romney in the 2012 election do it illegally?"

    Nope.

    May 23, 2014 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  2. afvet

    Nothing about the Democrats in New Mexico – candidate for governor being supported by a founder of the Weather Underground, including a fundraiser; and then there's the one who repeatedly slashed the tires of his opponent and her campaign manager.

    May 23, 2014 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  3. Excuses

    roger

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

    More coverage??!? Ummmm.....wonder where "Roger" is getting his news from. IRS, Benghazi, and VA are all over the news sites. CNN buries this news link in the middle of the pack....

    May 23, 2014 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  4. Enough is Enough

    Funny CNN....when it was news about democrats you didn't cover that. I have no problem with the story...other that the fact that your reporting is clearly hypocritical.....

    May 23, 2014 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  5. roseydozey

    OK, who's a republican, who's Tea Party, Who's a Dem. This is bad journalism. Who, What, Where, When and HOW. Come on CNN

    May 23, 2014 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  6. bobo

    This is a joke..... CNN actually has this supposed "scandal" but never really had anything on Benghazi and the IRS????

    May 23, 2014 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  7. roseydozey

    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.

    May 23, 2014 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  8. roseydozey

    Benghazi and IRS scandals are DEM bungles and scandles. They won't put anything derogatory in the CNN page about those scandles - CNN is demcratic - EVERYONE knows that.

    May 23, 2014 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  9. roseydozey

    Benghazi is a typical story of a murder that is made legal because the Sec of State says "hey, they are dead. They could have been killed walking across the street. It does not matter how they died". I wonder what she would feel if that was a member of her family that was hung out to dry and did not even get a Medal of Honor for doing so. Terrible...

    May 23, 2014 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  10. John

    Hey! Hey! Look at the Democrats – they are doing bad stuff. Benghazi, the VA, the IRS, and tained hamburger!! All scandals are Obama"s fault. The buck stops with the president because he is running the country, so he is responsible for everything bad. Don't look at what Republicans are doing. Benghazi. The absence of evidence is the evidence of absence. No proof of a scandal? That's because the liberal media id protecting Obama, the cover-up is so extensive that all witnesses have been taken to detention camps in South Dakota. Obama is going to take our guns, outlaw hunting and fishing, and clutch dancing. Obamacare will turn the US into a third workd country. Republicans just keep the crazy coming.

    May 23, 2014 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  11. Mark

    Biggest recent scandals: War in Iraq because of non-existent WMD; deregulation of the financial markets and banks; refusal to acknowledge climate change and do anything about it; refusal to give a damn about millions of uninsured Americans dying because of lack of access to healthcare (until the Affordable Care Act); refusal to keep guns out of the hands of lunatics or agree to the simplest background checks. Who's responsible?

    May 23, 2014 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  12. Rockymtnhi

    man i cant believe what them republicans and tea partiers will do to win. they are all evil on the Right...........
    DONT VOTE REPUBLICAN ANY LONGER!!! the are owned by the 1%-DONT DO IT !

    May 23, 2014 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  13. Name JK. SFL. THE GOP HOWDEE GOWDEE SHOW with special guest ISSA the CLOWN

    Did you ever hear of NATHAN SPROOL , the head GOP DIRTY TRICKSTER hired by the RNC before the 2012 elections, google this GOP clown if you want to find out HOW DIRTY the GOP really is.

    May 23, 2014 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  14. paul

    No benghazi coverage? Are you people been blind? There has been two years of benghazi coverage, including coverage of the 7 republican led investigations into it all of which found nothing. Yeah ee are paying for yet another investigation into benghazi also led by republicans. It is already obvious that no matter what they find they will want yet another investigation because it isn't a search for the truth it is just a political game on the tax payers dime.

    May 23, 2014 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  15. Grinning Libber

    Typical republicans.

    May 23, 2014 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  16. Todd Dunning

    Anything on Leland Yee yet? No?

    May 23, 2014 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  17. Silence DoGood

    @roseydozey
    Benghazi is a typical story of a murder that is made legal because the Sec of State says "hey, they are dead. They could have been killed walking across the street. It does not matter how they died". I wonder what she would feel if that was a member of her family that was hung out to dry and did not even get a Medal of Honor for doing so. Terrible...
    ------------
    --------------
    I will correct this lie as often as I see it: Ms.Clinton said the "what difference" quote in response to hounding in the hearings over the motivation of the attackers. She was making a point that it was more important that four Americans died and future prevention than what was in the minds of the attackers. She was placing the deaths as top priority as opposed to what her Inquisitors were finding important.

    May 23, 2014 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  18. shoos

    Politics is dirty. The machine on both sides has gotten monstrous. There is no honor behind it anymore.

    May 23, 2014 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  19. M. Edward

    I understand that a possible sentence of 20 years for this crime would be a gross miscarriage of the law, however, this is a crime. Someone posted that pictures were taken of Terry Shaivo, and no one was prosecuted, perhaps that was because the family had given permission in an attempt to stop a legal action. Another poster complained about the "scandal" gets more coverage than the IRS scandal, Benghazi, or the VA scandal." Personally, I can not remember a day that's gone by that all of those incidents have not made the news. As Secy. Clinton, admitted that their were problems with security and they were being addressed, so, "let's move on." The Tea Party and the Right just seem to refuse to be constructive, instead they want to be obstructive. Enough!

    May 23, 2014 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  20. Typical

    Wow, GOP cheating in elections. Shocker...not.

    May 23, 2014 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  21. johnbiggscr

    To those claiming that CNN didnt cover Benghazi and IRS scandal had really better get their eyes checked because a minutes search in the CNN archives will show no end of articles about both.
    You ruin your own credibility when you try to claim they didnt cover them.

    May 23, 2014 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  22. Dead Bear

    20 years in prison, eh? I'm sure Clayton's ultra-conservative views will go over quite well in the joint.

    May 23, 2014 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  23. cm

    What goes around comes around; dirt is dirt. No matter how you look at it.

    May 23, 2014 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  24. TONE

    roseydozey

    Benghazi is a typical story of a murder that is made legal because the Sec of State says "hey, they are dead. They could have been killed walking across the street. It does not matter how they died". I wonder what she would feel if that was a member of her family that was hung out to dry and did not even get a Medal of Honor for doing so. Terrible...

    So what do you call bush's lies to take us into Iraq losing 5,000 military men and women mass murder.

    May 23, 2014 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  25. Anonymous

    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.

    May 23, 2014 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
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