There were three more arrests in the Rose Cochran scandal Thursday further complicating the contentious GOP Primary between incumbent Thad Cochran and challenger Chris McDaniel for one of Mississippi’s seats in the US Senate. While all four people arrested so far have connections to the McDaniel’s campaign so far there is no evidence the break in to the nursing home /hospice were the wife of Thad Cochran has been treated for dementia for the past 13 years was done with the knowledge or approval of the challenger. 

The initial arrest was Clayton Kelly who was arrested last week for “breaking into” the nursing home on Easter Sunday. His wife and attorney say that Kelly “did the regular procedure” to get into the facility.

The three newly arrested people were charged with conspiracy

  • Mark Mayfield an attorney, Madison County Republican Party leader and officer in multiple tea party organizations. 
  • John Mary is a political activist who once co-hosted The Right Side Radio Show with Jack Fairchilds, and occasionally with Chris McDaniel. Mary is also a former member of the Hattiesburg Tea Party, but he seems to have limited involvement with other tea party groups, such as the Mississippi Tea Party, which purports to be the umbrella organization for several regional tea party groups. One such group is the Central Mississippi Tea Party, for which Mayfield is a member of the board of directors. 
  • Richard Sager is an elementary school physical education teacher and high school soccer coach. Based on the charges, Sager’s alleged involvement runs far deeper than that of Mary and Mayfield. In addition to conspiracy, Sager has been charged with felony obstruction of justice. To what extent, neither investigators with the Madison Police Department nor the district attorney are saying.

While all three men arrested Thursday are McDaniel supporters and have associations with the campaign none of them have any official role with the campaign.

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According to the Clarion Ledger:

Mayfield’s connection to the McDaniel campaign seems to be the strongest. Mayfield is listed as the vice chairman of the Mississippi Tea Party, which was quick to endorse McDaniel when he announced his candidacy. Mayfield was also one of the more active volunteers with the campaign. He helped distribute literature and yard signs. The Ridgeland attorney repeatedly posted in Facebook comments about where people could pick up campaign material and about upcoming events. Mayfield apparently volunteered in a campaign office on Lakeland Drive in the shopping center behind Mugshots. And Mayfield contributed $500 to McDaniel’s campaign.

But Mayfield’s political involvement also extended into McDaniel’s work as a state senator. Mayfield was at the Capitol often during legislative sessions, and he helped organize political events aimed at fiscal issues pushed by the Senate Conservative Coalition, which McDaniel started. In 2009, Mayfield helped organize the first Tax Day Tea Party event in the state with WJNT radio host Kim Wade. One of the headliners of that event was McDaniel.

Additionally Mayfield and his wife were listed as Co-hosts of a McDaniel fundraiser which took place last month

At the same time, Sager’s relationship to McDaniel is tenuous. While he’s a supporter and has posted pro-McDaniel sentiments, including spreading the word about campaign events in the Laurel area , his online activity is more sparse than that of Mayfield and Mary.

For McDaniel’s part, his campaign remains above official suspicion in relationship to this sordid affair. District Attorney Michael Guest has said that he knows of no involvement by the campaign, though he adds that it has not been officially cleared.

There is absolutely no evidence that McDaniel’s campaign was involved in any way. McDaniel’s only mistakes seem to be not reporting the incident to the police when first hearing about it a few weeks before everything broke (as soon as he found out he did order the picture taken down ASAP) and lying about the fact he knew about the break in when asked soon after the arrest occurred.  Whether these two lapses of judgment are enough to change voter’s minds about McDaniel is up to the voters of Mississippi.

This entire sorted mess demonstrates the worst things about politics today:

A ‘tea party’ group wasting its money trying to oust a Republican Senator who is conservative, but not conservative enough. Originally the hundreds of tea party groups were formed to endorse issues rather than candidates.  Even if a candidate was to be endorsed, it would be much better for the tea party goals to have a GOP led senate, where a majority leader decides the agenda and what gets voted on, than to have a perfectly conservative candidate. Look at Ted Cruz whose intentions and conservatism are beyond questioning. being in the minority has prevented him from pushing through any of his great ideas. IMHO it would have been better for the money supporting McDaniel being used to help oust a Democratic incumbent. Beyond that if the charges against the four who have been arrested are proven guilty, their over zealousness has given the mainstream media another reason to unfairly slander the rest of us trying to stop this country from losing its connection to the constitution.

In a discussion with fellow bloggers the other day, we compared notes on all the times our “scoops” were stolen and used by folks in the mainstream media without attribution (even some at FNC. Even worse was that some of those news hosts stealing our work without attribution spend the rest of their time belittling bloggers and their work (I won’t give you the name of the worst offender but his initials are Bill O’Reilly). In his disgusting attempt to discover a scandal about Thad Cochran, Clayton Kelly gave those offenders more ammo which will be directed at the citizen journalists who act professionally long after Kelly returns to the obscurity he so richly deserves.

One last thing, over the past few days, some have written that Cochran is “cheating” on his wife and not caring about her medical condition.  Clayton and Kate Cochran, the children of Thad and Rose object to those charges:

is amazing and humbling to see how devoted our dad has been as mother
has progressed from early dementia, to complete loss of language to her
current state of hospice care. He is a model of understanding for those who are
losing their loved ones in this way. We are shocked by someone trying to
use our mother’s illness for political purposes.

I have taken no position in the June 3 Mississippi primary nor will I take a position. As previously stated I do not take positions in primaries outside those in which I have a vote and I am not about to start.

Finally we must take a look at the reasons behind the alleged actions of the blogger and his three buddies.

Mrs. Cochran has been in the nursing home for over a decade, the fact that the 76-year-old senator “keeps company,” travels with, and even lives in an apartment in the house of his executive assistant Kay Webber who has worked for him some 33 years is nobody’s business.  Human beings need companionship and there is no reason for the Senator to be alone.

Just as there is no evidence that candidate McDaniel knew about or approved the Easter Sunday break in to the nursing home, there is no evidence the Cochran/Webber relationship is anything more intimate then a close friendship. To be honest if it turned out to be sexual there would be nothing wrong with that either (except possibly for the visions in my head that I would not be able to unthink).

Why is that important? Because the break in to Mrs. Cochran’s room was motivated by the charges of infidelity against Senator Cochran that still permeates the prose of some commentators. It is sad that none of those bad apples have any sense of compassion for a family dealing with their wife and moms long illness or a man whose wife’s absence has made him lonely.