Three more men were arrested in connection with the investigation into the alleged videotaping of the unsuspecting wife of Mississippi Republican Sen. Thad Cochran on Thursday.
The Clarion-Ledger reported Thursday Mississippi Tea Party Vice Chairman Mark Mayfield and one other suspect were arrested in connection with the weekend arrest of Clayton Thomas Kelly, a local activist and blogger who allegedly snuck into Rose Cochran’s nursing home and videotaped her. A Madison police official confirmed the arrest of Mayfield to Business Insider.
Mayfield has extensive ties with the campaign of state Sen. Chris McDaniel, the intra-party insurgent challenging Cochran in the June 3 Republican primary. His arrest will likely provide fodder for the Cochran campaign, which has accused McDaniel’s team of being behind the alleged nursing-home break-in.
Madison Police said Richard Sager of Ellisville, Mississippi, and John Mary of Hattiesburg, Mississippi were the two others person arrested on Thursday. All three defendants were charged with conspiracy to photograph or film another without permission where there is an expectation of privacy.
In a statement Thursday afternoon, McDaniel denounced the arrested parties.
“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 after the arrests. “Any individuals who were involved in this crime should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
John Reeves, an attorney representing Mayfield, said he was charged as part of a “conspiracy” to take a photograph of Rose Cochran. Reeves said Mayfield “maintains his innocence” and said he “looks forward to getting this matter resolved in his favour.” He also said Mayfield has “no connection whatsoever” to Kelly.
“This is politics at its worst,” Reeves told Business Insider.
Merrida Coxwell, another attorney representing Mayfield, did not immediately respond to emails and calls for comment.
The McDaniel campaign’s Facebook page and Mayfield’s personal page both display his support for McDaniel. On April 5, McDaniel’s campaign posted a photo of Mayfield and five other volunteers on Facebook.
“Here’s part of a crew that reached over 500 homes walking in Madison today. Great work team!” the post said.
Police have said Kelly was arrested after the department received information last Thursday about the “possible exploitation of a vulnerable adult resident” at the nursing home.
The resulting investigation determined the 28-year-old Kelly “illegally and improperly obtained an image of a vulnerable adult resident without their consent for his own benefit.” Kelly is currently being held on $US100,000 bond.
Kelly maintains a blog, “Constitutional Clayton,” where he posted a video featuring the photo of Cochran’s wife. It has since been removed.
Both campaigns accused the other of using the situation for political gain. Cochran’s team has accused McDaniel’s camp of being involved in the scheme. Meanwhile, the McDaniel campaign has denied any involvement with Kelly and accused Cochran of attempting to exploit the situation by waiting weeks after finding out about the photo before hiring an attorney. Cochran’s lawyer conducted an investigation and handed over information to police three weeks after Kelly’s video was published online.
This post was originally published at 3:21 p.m. ET and has been updated to reflect new developments.
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