Posted on | May 23, 2014 | 25 Comments
Authorities say the vice chairman of the Mississippi Tea Party and two other men conspired with Clayton Kelly to photograph U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran’s bedridden wife in her nursing home and create a political video against Cochran.
Mark Mayfield of Ridgeland, an attorney and state and local tea party leader, was arrested Thursday along with Richard Sager, a Laurel elementary school P.E. teacher and high school soccer coach. Police said they also charged John Beachman Mary of Hattiesburg, but he was not taken into custody because of “extensive medical conditions.” All face felony conspiracy charges. Sager also was charged with felony tampering with evidence, and Mary faces two conspiracy counts.
The arrest of Mayfield, well-known in political, business and legal circles, caused shock in Mississippi, in a criminal case and election that already had Mississippi in the national spotlight. . . .
Cochran’s opponent in a bitter GOP primary race, tea party-backed state Sen. Chris McDaniel of Ellisville, continued to deny any involvement with Kelly or the video and to accuse Cochran of gaming the incident for political points.
Authorities said they have no evidence at this point linking the alleged conspiracy to a campaign. But Cochran’s camp has continued to question when and how McDaniel and his staff knew of it, and point to inconsistent answers McDaniel and others on the campaign have given since Kelly’s arrest Friday night.
McDaniel in a statement Tuesday called on Cochran to take down a new ad. It says a “Chris McDaniel supporter has been charged with a felony for photographing his wife in a nursing home. Had enough? … Rise up against dirty politics.”
McDaniel said, “It is shameful for a sitting U.S. senator to engage in such desperate slander and lies.”